Predatory publications and their abuse of the open access model
We, like many of our readers, receive quite a few emails (on average six daily, 7 days per week!) requesting contribution of papers or to serve on the editorial boards of online journals. There are, of course, ways to cut down on the number of unwanted emails, by adding their domain names to one’s blocked-sender lists, or by clicking unsubscribe from their mailing lists. The wider issue is that I suspect the majority of these unsolicited approaches are from journals (N = 1317 at the time of writing)1 which could be classified as predatory publications that operate using an open access business model. Similarly, a list of suspect predatory publishers is also available (N = 1173 at the time of writing).2
Open Access itself is a valid business model under which legitimate journals can publish articles (in fact, the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology currently has 144 open access articles, published through Springer’s Open Choice option)—but it is also a model through which predatory journals can generate revenues from unsuspecting authors. The author is asked to submit a paper and then—following questionable, or non-existent, peer review—is asked to pay an article-processing charge to publish the paper. Predatory journals succeed through their efforts to look legitimate, e.g., providing a long list of indexing services which cover them, and by having names which sound like they could be legitimate journals. Sometimes, the names of predatory journals are very similar to existing, legitimate journals. One of the journals listed at predatoryjournals.com, International Journal of Nuclear Medicine & Radioactive Substances, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Journal of Nuclear Medicine in name.
Another common tactic is to put ‘International’ before an existing journal title, e.g., ‘International Journal of Nuclear Cardiology’ (which fortunately does not yet exist!); almost one-half (672 of 1317) of the journals listed at predatoryjournals.com are ‘International Journal of…,” and yet there are many legitimate, trustworthy journals whose names begin with these very same words—so one cannot simply rule out a journal because it starts with ‘International Journal of….’
Parenthetically, there are 223 results indexed by PubMed on the subject of ‘predatory publishing’; these items will have been published in what we consider to be legitimate publications, a belief supported by their indexing by stringent indexing services connected to PubMed. In other words, trusted publications have published more than 200 editorials, commentaries, and articles warning their readers of the risks of predatory publishers over the past few years!
The criteria for determining predatory open access publishers according to the American Journal Experts [reprinted from Prater 2018-Ref. 4]
1. The journal asks for a submission fee instead of a publication fee or tries to keep the copyright to authors’ work
2. The editorial board is very small or “coming soon”
3. A single publisher releases an overwhelmingly large suite of new journals all at one time
4. The journal says an issue will be available at a certain time, but the issue never appears
5. The website is not professional in quality
6. The journal title notes a national or international affiliation that does not match its editorial board or location
7. There are fundamental errors in the titles and abstracts
8. The content of the journal varies from the title and stated scope
We hope this information is helpful to our readers.
We would like to thank Ben Bishop, Editor, Clinical Medicine Journals with Springer Nature (the publisher of the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology) for his invaluable help in providing the data used in this paper.
The author declares no conflicts of interest.
- 1.https://predatoryjournals.com/journals/. List of Predatory Journals. Accessed 26 Sept 2018.
- 2.https://predatoryjournals.com/publishers/. List of Predatory Publishers. Accessed 26 Sept 2018.
- 4.Prater C. 8 Ways to Identify a Questionable Open Access Journal. https://www.aje.com/en/arc/8-ways-identify-questionable-open-access-journal/. Accessed 26 Sept 2018.