Identification of Predatory Journal:
Predatory publishing has become a major problem in the world of academic publishing.
Predatory journals and publishers are those entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.
These journals usually charge excessive publication fees but do not provide the expected editorial and publishing services.
Researchers, especially young scholars, often find it difficult to differentiate predatory journals from legitimate ones before submitting their work.
This article provides a comprehensive guide on various factors to check while assessing if a journal is predatory in nature.
What are Predatory Journals?
- Predatory journals are exploitative open-access academic publishing business models that charge publication fees to authors without checking the quality of work through appropriate peer review processes. They have questionable marketing schemes, and misleading metrics, and take advantage of junior researchers under pressure to publish.
- The main aim of such journals is to earn profit rather than cover the costs of publishing and disseminating scientific findings, which is the goal of ethical open-access journals.
- Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian from the University of Colorado Denver coined the term “predatory journals” in 2010. Beall maintained an online directory of potential predatory journals until 2017.
- Predatory publishers often spam academics with calls for papers and falsely claim high-impact metrics to attract article submissions. Researchers should be aware of such practices.
Common Practices of Predatory Journals
- Aggressive solicitation: Predatory journals send unsolicited bulk emails inviting article submissions, promising rapid publication. These emails sometimes falsely suggest that you’ve already been subscribed to receive such messages.
- Quick peer review: Manuscripts are accepted within 3-5 days without a rigorous peer review process. This guarantees publication after you pay the article processing charges.
- Lack of transparency: Vague information about editorial board members, the review process, contact information, headquarters location, etc.
- Fake metrics: False claims about impact factor, indexing in reputed databases to appear legitimate.
- Mimicking reputed journal titles: The name of the journal is deceitfully similar to well-established journals.
- Misleading websites: The website contains distorted, false information, promotes pseudoscience journals, and has multiple grammatical errors or distorted graphics.
- Lack of ISSN or fake ISSN: An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) identifies periodical publications. Predatory journals often won’t have one.
Red Flags in Assessing Journal Quality
1. Lack of Transparency
- No information on the editorial board, reviewers, guidelines, review policies, contacts
- Vague declarations about the peer review process
- Publishers hide or provide fake location details
2. Website Blemishes
- Bad grammar, spelling errors, distorted site design
- Dead links, temporary sites, and contact forms don’t work
- Identical templates used for multiple journals
3. Deviating Publishing Practices
- Quick acceptance of papers, delays in publication after payment
- Vague or no retraction policies
- Appointing reviewers just before submission
4. Aggressive Marketing
- Email blasts soliciting submissions promise rapid review
- Falsely claiming to index in academic databases
- Fake metrics like impact factor, h-index
5. Poor Indexing and Abstracting
- Not indexed in Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, etc.
- Listed only in fake “Indices” operated by predatory publishers
6. Heavy Charges, Minimal Services
- Demands high publication fees but no rigorous peer review
- Limited or no copyediting, proofreading, formatting
- Re-publishes already published articles
7. Easy Identification Guidelines
- Be suspicious of unsolicited bulk emails inviting submissions
- Check if listed in DOAJ/JCR/ MEDLINE/PubMed/WoS/Scopus
- Scan the journal website for transparency of the process
- Look out for falsified metrics or guarantees rapid publication
- Avoid journals with misleading titles, websites, information
- Don't submit if no or fake ISSNs
- Ask experienced peers for the legitimacy of unfamiliar journals
Identifying predatory journals requires thorough background research on the journal's policies, practices, and nature of services provided. Academics should check for transparency, proper peer review, reputable indexing, editorial standards, and valid ISSNs before considering submissions.
The repercussions of publishing in such journals can be far-reaching, affecting careers and reputations. Scrutinizing journals as per this guide can help avoid predatory publishers and make informed choices on manuscript submissions. Staying updated on the latest practices of dubious publishers is also advised.