The Woes of a Researcher: Avoid Becoming the Prey of Predatory Publishers

By Connor Sodak on Nov 1, 2019

As the pressure to publish for career advancement becomes a reality for many, navigating the seemingly endless number of prospective publishing outlets can become a daunting task for authors looking to ethically publish their research. Publishing opportunities have increased and become more accessible to authors through technological advancement, but so too have the number of vanity and predatory publishers who are ready to capitalize on an author’s ignorance or desperation.

While vanity publishing pushes authors to pay to have their books published, predatory publishing deceives authors by charging significant fees throughout the publishing process and promising false accolades to editors such as editorial board appointment. Furthermore, these publishers fail to use peer review as well as refuse to retract or withdraw information once it’s been submitted.

So how can authors avoid falling prey to these publishers?

In answer to this issue, the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE) recently held a seminar in Leiden, Holland, led by its chair, Dr. Deborah C. Poff, that presented characteristics of predatory publishing and provided possible solutions to avoiding and eliminating this threat. Some key traits of predatory publishers that were exhibited is a lack of reporting and ethical oversight, poor grammar and low production quality, failure to provide relevant information such as number of manuscripts accepted/rejected and copyright licensing, and finally, mimicking other legitimate publishers by copying their name, website, and fee structure.

Thus, authors researching a publisher or publication they have been recruited for should specifically look at:

1. Ethics and Malpractice Statements: A credible publisher will discuss how it handles issues pertaining to plagiarism, copyright infringement, peer review, user licensing, and unethical research practices, particularly for animal and human studies. See IGI Global’s Ethics and Malpractice Page as an example.

2. Peer Review: The publisher should have an anonymized peer review process in place for each of its publications. Journals should have Editorial Review Boards with their members listed. As a good example of an informative peer review process outline, see IGI Global’s Peer Review Process Page.

3. Transparency: No part of the publishing process should be enshrouded in secrecy. Additionally, any costs, such as Article Processing Charges for Open Access articles should be communicated upfront at the beginning of the process. Sudden fees should not arise in the middle of publishing and should certainly never guarantee that the research will be published or allow authors to bypass the peer review process.

4. Language Issues: The publisher’s website, promotional material, etc. should use proper grammar with minimal syntax errors and spelling mistakes.

5. Falsified Indexing Claims: If a publication is said to be listed in a legitimate index, it should be able to be found within that index.

6. Falsified Impact Factors: If a journal claims to have an Impact Factor, it will be indexed in one of the Web of Science flagship indices (Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index; Arts & Humanities Citation Index) and listed on the Journal Citation Report (JCR).

7. Fraudulent Editors: A quick check of the editor’s affiliation can reveal if the University is accredited or not. Additionally, searching the editor’s faculty page can legitimize their affiliation to the University.

8. COPE Membership: Some publishers falsely claim that they are members of COPE or forge the logo. A list of publishers who are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics can be found on its webpage. Additionally, journals recognized by COPE are listed. As an example, see IGI Global’s listing.

9. Similar Journal Name/Logo/Publisher Name: If the name is similar to a well-known journal or publisher, but not quite the same, or if the URL looks slightly off, tread carefully. Predatory publishers can mimic legitimate publishers.

Possible solutions were also presented during this seminar, as well. The use of education and creating awareness of this phenomenon would significantly help eliminate this issue and provide aspiring authors preconceived knowledge of these deceptive organizations. A more invasive solution in addressing this issue is to pursue predatory publishers criminally.

Though predatory publishing will not disappear overnight, authors can practice due diligence and use these tips to identify and avoid publishing with discredited publishing entities.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
Newsroom Contact
Caroline Campbell
Marketing Manager
(717) 533-8845, ext. 144

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