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Avoiding predatory publishing for early career neurosurgeons: what should you know before you submit?

Abstract

Background

Scientific research can offer the joy of discovery. For many graduating neurosurgeons, often, a seminar, class, or instructional module is their first and only formal exposure to the world of conducting research responsibly, to write down and report the results of such research. The pressure to publish scientific research is high, but any young neurosurgeon who is unaware of how predatory publishers operate can get duped by it and can lose their valuable and hard-fought research. Hence, we have attempted to provide an overview of all potentially predatory neurosurgery publications and provide some “red flags” to recognize them.

Methods

A suspected list of predatory publications was collected via a thorough review of the Neurosurgery journals listed in 4 major so-called blacklists, i.e., Beall’s list, Manca’s list, Cabell’s blacklist, and Strinzel blacklist and then cross-referenced with UGC CARE whitelist to remove any potential legitimate journals. All journals with a scope of the Neurosurgery publication were searched using terms in the search bar: “Neurosurgery”, “Neuroanatomy”, “Neuropathology”, and “Neurological disorder/disease”. Since all predatory journals claim to be open access, all possible types of open access journals on Scimago were also searched, and thus a comparison was possible in terms of publication cost and number of legitimate open access journals when compared with predatory ones. In addition, methodologies by which these journals penetrate legitimate indexes like PubMed was investigated.

Results

A total of 46 predatory journals were found and were enlisted along with their publishers and web addresses. Sixty of the 360 Neurosurgery journals listed on Scimago were open access and the fee for the predatory journals was substantially lower (< $150) when compared with legitimate journals ($900–$3000). Six types of open access types exist while a total of 26 red flags in 7 stages of publication can be found in predatory journals. These journals have penetrated indexes by having similar names to legitimate journals and by publishing articles with external funding which mandate their indexing.

Conclusion

These 46 journals were defined as predatory by 4 major blacklists, and none of them was found in the UGC Care white list. They also fulfill the 26 red-flags that define a predatory journal. The blacklist detailed here may become redundant; hence “whenever in doubt” regarding a journal with “red-flags”, the authors are advised to refer to whitelists to be on the safer side. Publishing in predatory journals leads to not only loss of valuable research but also discredits a researcher among his peers and can be hindrance in career progression. Some journals are even indexed on PubMed, and they have sophisticated webpages and high-quality online presentations.

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Harsh Deora is responsible for planning and collection of data and writing of the manuscript; Manjul Tripathi is responsible for writing the manuscript; Bipin Chaurasia and Andre Grotenhuis are responsible for critical review and editing.

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Correspondence to Harsh Deora.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Neurosurgery Training

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Deora, H., Tripathi, M., Chaurasia, B. et al. Avoiding predatory publishing for early career neurosurgeons: what should you know before you submit?. Acta Neurochir 163, 1–8 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00701-020-04546-9

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Keywords

  • Neurosurgery
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Academic neurosurgery
  • Predatory journals