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How the Fight Against Predatory Publishing Is Gaining Momentum

By Brittany Haynes on Feb 26, 2020

Editor Note: Understanding the importance of this timely topic and to ensure that research is made available to the wider academic community, IGI Global has made a sample of related articles and chapters complimentary to access. View the end of this article to freely access this critical research.

Predatory. Vanity. Vampire. As academics face an increasing “publish or perish” mentality, they are becoming increasingly exposed to and aware of these types of unethical publishers when trying to disseminate their work, especially as the ability to disseminate information that “appears” legitimate becomes easier and easier with technological advancements. Just earlier this year, a Texas Tech Today article covered a grant received by professors at Texas Tech University to create a training program to educate people on telling apart predatory publishers from credible publishers. The fact is predatory publishers do not want people to know their secrets and how they are able to ensnare researchers into their scheme.

In step with this movement to combat predatory publishing, IGI Global publishes the latest research content in these areas, including Research 2.0 and the Impact of Digital Technologies on Scholarly Inquiry, edited by Prof. Antonella Esposito, from  the University of Milan, Italy. This publication is an authoritative reference source for the latest insights on the impact of web services and social technologies for conducting academic research. Below, IGI Global explores the grant for the training program at Texas Tech University and outlines the best practices for researchers to start the vetting process when publishing their work.

Research 2.0 and the Impact of Digital Technologies on Scholarly Inquiry
Edited by Prof. Antonella Esposito (University of Milan, Italy)
Copyright: © 2017 | Pages: 343 | ISBN: 9781522508304 | EISBN: 9781522508311

This scholarly publication is an authoritative reference source for the latest insights on the impact of web services and social technologies for conducting academic research...Learn More.

A Future Training Program for Recognizing Predatory Publishing

In September of 2019, Texas Tech University announced that Prof. Amy Koerber, professor and associate dean for administration and finance in Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communications, and four other faculty members received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a training program that will “help educate people on open-access publishing and how to distinguish “predatory” journals from credible ones.”

To shed light on the problem that required the need for such a program, Prof. Koerber pointed out some of the issues researchers are facing with these publishers: "Open-source publishing itself has emerged as a perfectly legitimate way to make academic knowledge more readily accessible to wide global audiences…the rise of open-source journals was leading some publishers to take advantage of that model. They were giving away articles for free, but they were doing that by charging these exorbitant author fees. At the same time, they were compromising quality by taking away standard measures of gatekeeping such as blind peer reviews."

According to Prof. Jiahang Li, from Michigan State University, USA, et al. in their chapter “Scholars in the Digital Age: Social Scholarship and Practices” from the publication Research 2.0 and the Impact of Digital Technologies on Scholarly Inquiry, “Never before has data been so open. Indeed, U.S. President Barack Obama in 2013 signed an Executive Order declaring that the default for government information will be open and machine-readable. This precedent-setting initiative aimed to encourage transparency, participation and collaboration in government processes. This attitude reflects a cultural zeitgeist that is changing the way scholars interact with each other, ushering in a new era of more open, fluid scholarship.”

Beyond interaction between scholars is the openness about the research content itself. As the digital age progresses, technology is being used more and more for academic publishing practices, but the danger lies in, as discussed by Prof. Koerber, when publishers can start to “appear” legitimate based on technological advances but are actually taking advantage of researchers in this ever-developing arena of open and sharing information.

The $345,702 grant awarded to Prof. Koerber and her associates will assist them in researching the current publishing practices in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, which will help them develop the training program STEM Training in Ethics of Publication Practices (STEPP), in order to combat these predatory practices that continue to increase in the scholarly community.

The hope for this project is that it will be useful to people across all disciplines (not just STEM fields) and by information consumers to ensure quality of articles they are referencing. However, there are already steps you can take when vetting a publisher and determining if they are trustworthy or predatory, which are outlined below.

The Secrets These Predatory Publishers Do Not Want Researchers to Know

According to Prof. Prof. Xiang Ren, from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, in the chapter “Quality Assessment and Certification in Open Scholarly Publishing and Inspiration for MOOC Credentialing” from the publication Scholarly Ethics and Publishing: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice, “Despite the disruptive changes driven by open publishing in scholarly communication, it is challenging to develop widely accepted methods for quality assessment and certification,” which makes can make it more challenging to identify predatory and similarly unethical publishers.

Scholarly Ethics and Publishing: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice (2 Volumes)
Edited by Information Resources Management Association (USA)
Copyright: © 2019 | Pages: 919 | ISBN: 9781522580577 | EISBN: 9781522580584

This scholarly publication discusses various aspects of ethical values in academic settings including methods and tools to prevent and detect plagiarism, strategies for the principled gathering of data, and best practices for conducting and citing research...Learn More.

With this in mind, there are many ways in which predatory publishers attempt to deceive researchers, and this list of warning signs unfortunately does not include all the methods in which academics can be deceived, but it is our hope that this list will bring new information to light that otherwise may have contributed to the deception of a fellow author, researcher, librarian, or other academic/research professional or information consumer.

The following items are red flags to look out for when interacting with publishers to help determine if they might be predatory:

Quick Acceptance

While it is easy to become excited about a quick acceptance of your article, this is a strong indicator no review occurred or that the review process does not follow industry standards. Publishing an article is a lengthy process, one that should take several months, potentially even a year depending on who you are publishing with. IGI Global, for example, publishes peer-reviewed, timely, and innovative research content in an expeditious manner; however, our rigorous, double-blind peer review process still takes an average of 12-16 weeks to complete to ensure credibility and accuracy of our content.

Hidden Fees

If a publisher suddenly demands fees after your article has already been accepted, and these fees were never discussed prior to acceptance, you may be dealing with a predatory publisher. While there are no fees associated with publishing with IGI Global (unless the author chooses to publish open access) there may be other publishers who do have costs connected with their publishing. If these publishers are following ethical standards, they will be upfront with any additional costs pertaining to publishing your article. For more information on our publishing process, visit the Publish With IGI Global webpage.

Publisher or Journal Names That Appear Similar or Related to Legitimate Entities

Predatory publishers often create their names based off already existing and credible publishers. Because their names are based off legitimate publishers, they can appear authentic and professional. This tactic is sometimes utilized when predatory publishers name their journals as well, as they intentionally title the journals similarly to well-known or long-established journals. Additionally, predatory publishers often mimic the web site style of legitimate publishers, which can be confusing. A quick Google search of a suspicious-looking journal, publisher, or website can often help, as you may have not been the first person to notice this.

A Publisher Location That Cannot Be Verified

If the location of the publisher cannot be verified by a quick search online, it is a sign that the publisher might not exist. Predatory publishers often create misleading claims such as location when it comes to their publishing operation. This type of fabrication is just one example. The publisher can also manipulate publications to appear as thought they have Impact Factor, as we will see below:

Impact Factor

Impact Factor is provided by Clarivate Analytics’ Journal Citation Report and is only given to journals that are indexed in certain Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science Core Collection indices. Only journals who with strong ethical publishing practices can be accepted. Some predatory publishers create fake impact factors and assign them to their journals. Real journal metrics that track citation measurement include Clarivate Analytics’ Impact Factor, Elsevier’s CiteScore™, and the SCImago Journal & Country Rank (SJR) which utilizes Scopus’ database for data.

Improper Use of ISSNs and/or ISBNs

Journal ISSNs are typically 8 digits long, and book ISBNs are typically 13 digits. Improper use of these numbers, or ISSNs/ISBNs with varying digit lengths are commonly used by predatory publishers.

Being Surprised to Find Your Name Listed as Part of an Editorial Review Board

If you find your name associated with an editorial review board you have not been contacted about or that you did not volunteer for, this could indicate a predatory publisher, as utilizing the names of legitimate academics can make a predatory publisher appear credible.

The Publisher/Journal Is on Cabell’s Blacklist

Cabell’s “Blacklist” is essentially a database of predatory publishers. The goal of the creators is “to provide academics with accurate information and reputable outlets for publication.” (http://www.cabells.com/about). If the journal you wish to submit your work to is on this list, you are dealing with an unethical or dishonest publisher. If the journal you want to submit to is on Cabell’s “Whitelist,” then you’re in the clear. The Whitelist contains a collection of ethical and legitimate publishers.

Beyond these red flags, find below other resources to learn more about predatory publishers:

Consult the Committee on Publication Ethics’ (COPE) Guides and Website

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) works to educate and support editors, publishers, and those involved in publication ethics to move the culture of publishing towards one where ethical practices become normalized. Additionally, researchers can reach out to ask COPE questions about publishing ethics issues, and they provide additional resources including forms and guides on pertinent publishing topics, including their recent document on the definition of predatory publishers and how to avoid them, here.

As IGI Global is a full member of COPE, we support our journal editors by providing access to COPE resources to ensure the publication and dissemination of peer-reviewed research content of the utmost quality. (Additionally, as part of the vetting process to become a full member of COPE, IGI Global’s double-blind peer review process was audited, several IGI Global staff and editors were interviewed, and IGI Global was deemed 100% compliant and no recommended changes or enhancements were required by COPE.)

View IGI Global’s Webinar Series

To learn even more about ways to combat predatory publishing, view the following IGI Global webinars surrounding this topic:

View additional webinars from IGI Global here.

The publications featured in this article, Research 2.0 and the Impact of Digital Technologies on Scholarly Inquiry (ISBN: 9781522508304| EISBN: 9781522508311), edited by Prof. Antonella Esposito, from  the University of Milan, Italy, and Scholarly Ethics and Publishing: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice (ISBN: 9781522580577 | EISBN: 9781522580584), edited by Information Resources Management, USA, are currently available both in print and electronic format through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore at a 20% discount, and are featured in IGI Global’s InfoSci®-Books database (5,300+ e-books). Recommend these publications, the InfoSci-Books database, and the InfoSci-Journals database (185+ e-journals) to your library to have access to this critical research as well as thousands of other research resources, including the chapters and articles below.

Complimentary Research Articles and Chapters on Scholarly Publishing and Ethics:

In response to the timeliness and importance of this topic, we have made all of the below articles and chapters complimentary to access. As such, please feel free to integrate these resources into your research and share them across your network.

View All Chapters and Articles on This Topic

The “View All Chapters and Articles on This Topic” navigates to IGI Global’s InfoSci-Demo Account, which provides a sample of the IGI Global content available through IGI Global’s InfoSci-Books (5,300+ e-books) and InfoSci-Journals (185+ e-journals) databases. If interested in having full access to this peer-reviewed research content, recommend these valuable research tools to your library.

For Journalists Interested in Additional Trending Research:

Contact IGI Global’s Marketing Team at marketing@igi-global.com or 717-533-8845 ext. 100 to access additional peer-reviewed resources to integrate into your latest news stories.


Featured Publications Surrounding Scholarly Publishing and Ethics:

Learn More
Recommend to Library
Research 2.0 and the Impact of Digital Technologies on Scholarly Inquiry
Prof. Antonella Esposito (University of Milan, Italy)

Copyright: © 2017 | Pages: 343 | ISBN: 9781522508304 | EISBN: 9781522508311

This scholarly publication is an authoritative reference source for the latest insights on the impact of web services and social technologies for conducting academic research. Highlighting international perspectives, emerging scholarly practices, and real-world contexts, this book is ideally designed for academicians, practitioners, upper-level students, and professionals interested in the growing field of digital scholarship.

About the Editor: Prof. Antonella Esposito obtained her PhD (European Doctorate) in Education and ICT (E-learning) at the UOC – Open University of Catalonia and MRes in Educational and Social Research at the Institute of Education, University of London. She has been an e-learning practitioner for more than fifteen years, in the capacity of course designer and online tutor, mainly in the higher education sector in Italy...Read Full Bio.
Learn More
Recommend to Library
Ethics in Research Practice and Innovation
Prof. Antonio Sandu (Stefan cel Mare University of Suceava, Romania), Prof. Ana Frunza (LUMEN Research Center in Social and Humanistic Sciences, Romania), and Prof. Elena Unguru (University of Oradea, Romania)

Copyright: © 2019 | Pages: 373 | ISBN: 9781522563105 | EISBN: 9781522563112

This scholarly publication discusses current and historical aspects of ethical values in scientific research and technologies, as well as emerging perspectives of conducting ethical research in a variety of fields.
Learn More
Recommend to Library
Scholarly Publishing and Research Methods Across Disciplines
Prof. Victor C.X. Wang (Grand Canyon University, USA)

Copyright: © 2019 | Pages: 372 | ISBN: 9781522563105 | EISBN: 9781522563112

This scholarly publication discusses current and historical aspects of ethical values in scientific research and technologies, as well as emerging perspectives of conducting ethical research in a variety of fields.
Learn More
Recommend to Library
Innovations in Measuring and Evaluating Scientific Information
Prof. J. John Jeyasekar (Tamil Nadu State Forensic Sciences Department, India) and Prof. P. Saravanan (Lekshmipuram College of Arts and Science, India)

Copyright: © 2018 | Pages: 298 | ISBN: 9781522534570 | EISBN: 9781522534587

This scholarly publication provides emerging research on the theoretical base of scientific research and information literacy. While highlighting topics, such as bibliographical databases, forensic research, and trend analysis, this book explores visualization tools, software, and techniques for science mapping and scientific literature.
Learn More
Recommend to Library
Enhancing Knowledge Discovery and Innovation in the Digital Era
Prof. Miltiadis D. Lytras (The American College of Greece, Greece), Prof. Linda Daniela (University of Latvia, Latvia), and Prof. Anna Visvizi (Effat University, Saudi Arabia)

Copyright: © 2018 | Pages: 363 | ISBN: 9781522541912 | EISBN: 9781522541929

This scholarly publication is a vibrant reference source on the latest research on student education, open information, technology enhanced learning (TEL), and student outcomes.

View All Publications With Content Related to This Topic

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.


About IGI Global: Founded in 1988, IGI Global, an international academic publisher, is commitment to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically advanced publishing processes. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 100,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging, peer-reviewed research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. To learn more about IGI Global, click here.


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