Monday, February 12, 2018

Predatory Publishing: What is it? and how to avoid it: Some tips

Guest post by Ciarán Quinn, Research Support Librarian, Maynooth University Library

If you have recently published or spoken at a conference you may receive email’s encouraging you to publish your work, edit or review a journal or speak at a conference. Often these requests will be from journals you don’t recognise or for events you’ve never heard of.  The growth of what is know known as  predatory publishing seems to be a side effect of the growth generally in Open Access publishing, though they do predate OA, so it’s not just an issue for OA.  My focus here will be on OA Publishing.

Part of the OA publishing model (as opposed to the traditional one) is a APR (article processing charge) or publishing fee for each article published. This process is exploited by journals of dubious value to obtain fees from researchers. Requests to publish may particularly appeal to early career researchers who are keen to get published and are probably less familiar with the well-established journal titles and the process of getting published. So how do you check up on the journals and spot these predatory publishers?

In the first instance the grammar in these emails is often quite poor and the text generally very effusive with regard to your eminence in a field often unrelated to what you actually do. Of course this may also be the case with some legitimate but low quality titles so careful investigation is advised least you miss a genuine opportunity. Some e-mails are of higher quality and are initially quite convincing, appearing for example to have a legitimate business address and a professional looking website, so other pointers to look out for might be fees for publication. Fees may not be  mentioned until after the manuscript is submitted. A legitimate publisher would notify you of charges up front and provide an outline of its publishing process. You could also check to see if the publication is peer reviewed, many predatory publishers either don’t have any or its of very poor quality. If there are contact details for the editorial board these could also be contacted to check their credentials and the scope of the journal. It may come as a surprise to some of these contacts that they have been listed at all.  Another red flag may be the scope of the journal may too broad (multiple areas, unrelated fields) or rapid publication.Some useful sites to check include the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association and the Directory of Open Access Journals   Another useful Website “Think, Check, Submit” has a useful checklist for assessing the quality of a publication

Checking a reputable bibliographic database such as Web of Science, Scopus, Sociological Abstracts, Psych Info, or JSTOR might also confirm the status of a particular journal title. It would also be worthwhile consulting colleagues and library staff for advice on this. 

There are also lists of predatory journals available, perhaps the most well-known one being the Beall list.
While the list is useful, there is some bias which you might need to consider as identified in a recent LSEImpact BlogpostBeall’s list was removed from the Web and is no longer updated but a copy is available here This is a topic that is written about regularly so it’s also worth keeping an eye out for articles that deal with the issue in your specific subject area.

If staff or students at Maynooth University would like more information on this, please contact Ciarán Quinn, Research Support Librarian 

No comments: