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Scholarly Publishing

This is a guide to help our faculty, staff, and students identify publishing opportunities in their field

Predatory Publishing

Predatory publishers exploit the academic need to publish but offer little reward for those using their services. By operating a business model that involves charging publication fees without providing the same level of editorial and publishing services offered by legitimate journals, these publishers take advantage of the “publish or perish” mentality held by many in academia.

Predatory publishers have similar warning signs: 

  • Ultimate goal is to make money - not to publish scholarly research
  • They do not care about the quality of the work published (i.e. no or little editing or peer-review).
  • They engage in unethical business practices (i.e. not as advertised).
  • Exploit the need for academics to publish
  • Do not follow accepted scholarly publishing best practices
  • They make false claims or promises (i.e. claims of impact factors and indexing).

 

Risks of Publishing with Predatory or Low Quality Journals

Apart from the lack of best practices, predatory publishers can affect your work in the long-term.

  • Lack of Peer-Review: The peer-review system isn't perfect but there is general consensus that papers that undergo peer-review are better for it. Rigorous peer-review is a time-consuming process. It cannot be completed in the short time promised by most predatory journals. The peer-review process:
    • establishes the validity of research
    • prevents falsified work from being accepted and published
    • allows authors to revise and improve papers prior to publication.
  • Your Work Could Disappear: Legitimate publishers are committed to preserving your published work. Opportunists looking to make a quick buck are not going to care if your paper is still available in 5 years, much less tomorrow. This situation is the stuff of nightmares if you plan to go up for tenure or promotion.
  • Your Work Will be Difficult to Find: Predatory publishers often claim to be indexed in popular databases such as Scopus, PubMed, or Web of Science, when they are not indexed in these resources. Fortunately, it is easy to double check this claim by doing a simple search for the journal in these databases. 
  • Harmful to Reputation: Publishing in a predatory journal can hurt your reputation, and the reputation of your institution. Publishing in predatory journals can also be harmful to your career advancement. While the repercussions of publishing with questionable publishers is still largely unknown there have been a few documented cases where it has hurt careers.

 

Tips for Evaluating Journal Legitimacy

Whether a journal "predatory" or not is often not quite as clear as we would hope. Most journals exist in the grey area between high quality and predatory. Here are some tips and resources to help you decide. Still need assistance? Contact Jess Newman, Research Data and Scholarly Communications Librarian at jnewman@uthsc.edu

  1. Is the journal indexed in well known databases, such as Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, or DOAJ (for OA titles)?
    • It takes time for journals to be included in these services, so the journal in question may be new. However, if it is not indexed in a major service it will be difficult for readers to find your article. Some predatory journals also falsely claim to be indexed in these important databases. You can verify their inclusion by checking the lists of indexed journals for each database.
  2. Can you easily identify and contact the publisher from the journal's website? Do they publish any other titles that you could review for legitimacy?
  3. Is the peer-review process clearly stated?
    • If there is no peer-review process, or a suspiciously short review period, this is a red flag.
  4. Are you familiar with members of the editorial board? Do personal profiles of the board members mention the publisher or journal title?
    • Many predatory publishers make up editorial board members or include them without their knowledge.
  5. Is the journal title or logo extremely similar (or even identical) to a well-known title?
  6. Does the ISSN match the journal title?
    • Check here to verify who the ISSN is registered to.
  7. Can you verify any listed journal impact metrics such as the CiteScore from Scopus?
    • Note that some metrics are only provided by specific sources, such as the JIF from Web of Science. See here for a list of metrics and their sources.

 

 

 

Additional Resources