Introduction to Predatory Publishing

Introduction to Predatory Publishing


Hello and welcome to “Get Yourself Published,
Promote Your Research,” a webinar series from the Himmelfarb Library Scholarly Communications
Committee at The George Washington University, and supported by the Clinical and Translational
Science Institute at Children’s National Hospital, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences,
the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and the GW School of Nursing. In this eight part series we explore tools,
resources, and tips that can help you get your research published and ensure that it
is widely read and cited. Our 30 minute pre-recorded bi-weekly webinars
cover topics including publishing models, journal selection tools, predatory publishing,
copyright, citation metrics, publishing identity management, bibliographic management tools,
Covidence, and more. Our webinars are publically available and
licensed under a Creative Commons license, although some resources discussed in this
series are only available to faculty, staff and students with access to Himmelfarb Library
resources. Today we will be talking about an Introduction
to Predatory Publishing. My name is Ruth Bueter, and I am the Serials
Librarian at the Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library. In this session, we will compare the qualities
of reputable and predatory publishers, identify red flags you can use to help determine if
a publisher is predatory, and develop the skills to recognize a predatory publisher’s
website and email communication. I’d like to start by providing a brief overview
of open access publishing. There is a common misconception that all open
access journals are inherently predatory. However, this is simply not the case. Traditional publishing models are paid for
by the readers. Individual readers and libraries pay subscription
fees in exchange for access to full-text content. Open access publishers have shifted this “reader
pays” business model to an “author pays” model. Open access journals charge authors to publish
a manuscript. As a result, open access articles are freely
available for anyone to read upon publication. Legitimate open access publishers conduct
the same rigorous peer review as traditional journals. If you would like a more detailed comparison
between traditional and open access publishing, I encourage you to watch the “Introduction
to Publishing” session of this webinar series led by my colleague Paul Levett. Until recently, there was no generally agreed
upon definition of predatory publishing. In April of 2019, a group of 43 participants
from 10 countries met to create a definition of predatory publishing. Participants included publishing society members,
research funders, policy makers, academic institutions, libraries, patients, and caregivers
who engage in research. The definition on this slide is the final
product of this meeting. We will explore this definition in more detail
during this webinar. The key aspect of this definition is that
predatory publishers “prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship.” This emphasizes that the true goal of predatory
publishers is not to advance scholarship, research or science. Let’s explore how predatory publishers “prioritize
self-interest at the expense of scholarship.” Because the open access model charges authors
for publishing their manuscripts, predatory publishers have found this to be an easy way to
make money and have exploited this model in order to generate profits. By aggressively seeking manuscript submissions
and then publishing all submissions, regardless of quality, predatory journals rake in profits
for each manuscript that is submitted. The more manuscripts that are submitted, the
more articles these journals publish, and the more money they make. Articles are not subjected to rigorous peer
review or rejected based on quality. Doing so would decrease profits. Predatory publishers exploit the need for
researchers to publish in order to receive promotion and tenure. They often target novice faculty members who
are not yet familiar with the publishing landscape, and they use aggressive email tactics with
promises of speedy publication to convince authors to submit manuscripts to their journals. While promises of speedy peer review may sound
enticing, quality peer review takes time to complete. No peer review actually takes place prior
to publication in these journals, regardless of claims to the contrary. In short, predatory publishers use deceptive
and unethical business practices. So why is publishing in one of these journals
potentially harmful to you, your reputation, and your career? A good starting point to answer this question
is citations. Authors want their research to be read and
cited by other researchers so it can become part of a larger scientific conversation. Citation counts are one way to measure the
impact research has had on the larger scientific community. Articles published in predatory journals are
not cited at the same rate as those published in legitimate journals. One reason for this is a lack of indexing. Most predatory journals are not indexed in
databases such as PubMed, Medline, or Scopus. Inclusion in these databases increases the
visibility of your research, making it more likely to be found, read, and cited. A recent study found that 60% of articles
published in predatory journals did not attract a single citation during a five year period. By comparison, just 9% of articles published
in reputable journals had not been cited during a five year period. In addition to your work not being seen by
other researchers, your research will not be put through the same rigorous peer review
process done in legitimate journals. The lack of peer review in predatory journals
increases the risk of your work being published alongside mediocre or flawed research. Predatory journals tend not to have archiving
policies. This means that your work might disappear
without notice. If your article disappears from a publisher’s
website, promotion and tenure committees won’t be able to find it when needed. Lastly, one famous predatory sting exposed
the willingness of these journals to accept unqualified editors to serve on their editorial
boards. One researcher who was fed up with the constant
requests from predatory journals to join their editorial board, submitted her dog as an
editor. Her dog was accepted onto the editorial board
and once served on the editorial boards of seven different “medical journals.” Ollie’s research interests listed on her profile
included “the benefits of abdominal massage for medium-sized canines.” Let’s take a moment to compare the qualities
of reputable journals versus those of predatory journals. Here is a list of qualities you can expect
to find from a reputable publisher. A positive reputation within the field, a
history of publishing quality research based on sound science, and a rigorous peer review
process are the norm for reputable journals. Copyright, retraction, indexing and archiving
policies are also clear. Predatory publishers, on the other hand, publish
poor quality research, and even though they may claim to follow a peer review process,
it is unlikely that articles receive any sort of peer review prior to publication. Fee structures are not clear, and are often
misleading. Copyright, retraction, indexing and archiving
policies are often non-existent or unclear. The definition of predatory publishing discussed
earlier in this webinar, lists some characteristics of predatory publishers. These characteristics, which I’ve highlighted
in red font here, embody many of the “red flags” that I encourage authors to look for
when evaluating whether or not a journal is predatory. In the next few slides, I’ll discuss these
red flags in more detail. One common red flag to watch for is false
or misleading information. Predatory journal websites and email communications
often present contradictory statements and fake impact factors. An easy way to determine if these statements
are true is to do some fact checking of your own. Don’t just take the journal’s word for it,
check the impact factor on InCites Journal Citation Reports. Look for the journal’s physical address listed
on their website, and search it on Google Maps. Does the street view image seem like an appropriate
place of business for a legitimate scholarly publisher? Do an internet search for names on the journal’s
editorial board and see if the people listed actually claim to be members of the editorial
board on their professional profiles. If a journal claims to be indexed in a well-known
database such as PubMed or Scopus, go to PubMed or Scopus and do a publication search for
the title. Does the journal or publisher follow editorial
and scholarly publication best practices? Does the journal’s website or email communication
meet professional standards? Even if a website appears to meet professional
standards, take the time to actually read the content. If you find spelling and grammatical errors,
awkward language, or irrelevant text throughout the website, stay clear of the journal. If images appear to be “squishy,” fuzzy, or
out of proportion, they may have been copied from another website and used without permission. These websites also tend to use a lot more
flash media than legitimate journal sites. A lack of transparency is another red flag. Do they provide appropriate contact information,
including phone numbers, email addresses, and a physical address? A web form is not sufficient. Are article processing charges clear? Can you verify editorial board members listed
have actually agreed to serve in that capacity? Predatory journals are relentless in their
aggressive and indiscriminate email solicitations. They send repeated emails that are filled
with flattery. They often mention recent articles that you
have published and claim that related submissions are needed urgently for a forthcoming issue. They invite submissions from researchers whose
expertise is outside of the journal’s scope. For example, they may invite a cardiologist
to submit an article to a dermatology journal. While it may sound like a lot to remember,
there are resources available to help you protect yourself from these predatory practices. Links to the resources listed on this slide
are available in the description of this video. These tools can be used to help you determine
for yourself whether or not a journal or publisher is predatory. One useful resource is the email assessment
tool. This tool can guide you in answering some
quick questions to help determine if an email you received from a journal is trustworthy. Take a moment to review the questions on this
slide. On the next slide, you can use these questions
while looking at a real email from a publisher. This is an example email invitation from a
predatory publisher. Thinking about the questions on the previous
slide, what do you notice that might tip you off that this is not a legitimate scholarly
journal? Feel free to pause this video to more fully
evaluate this email. Let’s take a moment to look at some areas
of concern. The signature block does not include contact
information such as a phone number or email address. There is awkward language throughout the email. The journal’s scope is extremely broad. If you received this email, but are not working
in the field of pediatrics, this journal would be outside of your field of expertise. In addition, they use both the British and
American spellings of Pediatrics. The font type and size are not consistent
throughout the body of the email. The use of italics and bold font are also
not used in a professional manner. A website assessment tool is also available
to provide some guidelines for evaluating a journal’s website. Some things to look for include correct grammar,
spelling, and awkward language, a professional website appearance, and a verifiable physical
address. You should verify the journal’s listed impact
factor. Look at the “instructions for authors” page
and determine if the information provided is sufficient. Does the journal have a manuscript submission
portal, or do they request email submissions? A manuscript submission portal is the industry
norm for legitimate scholarly journals. Using the information on the previous slides,
what is your impression of the screenshot of this journal website? Feel free to pause the video for a moment
while you examine this image. This is a screenshot from a predatory journal’s
website. Let’s take a look at some areas of concern. One of the first things I notice is the use
of cute images that take up a majority of the page that is seen without scrolling down
the site. Cute images are not something I associate
with scholarly journals. I also notice inappropriate use of capitalization
in the description of the journal. The journal appears to have two different
email domains, one that is a .com and another that uses .org. The journal claims to have a 0.631 impact
factor. However, when I looked up the ISSN listed
on InCites Journal Citation Reports, no journal was found with that ISSN. So this is a fake impact factor claim. As you can see, without digging in too deeply
to a journal’s website, I was able to spot numerous red flags that suggest that this
may be a predatory journal. For comparison, take a look at this website
from a legitimate scholarly journal. This site does not have unnecessary, cute
images. Examples of recently published articles are
showcased prominently on the website. I was easily able to verify that the impact
factor listed on the site is correct. It is also interesting to notice that the
journal names of these two journals are very similar. Predatory journals often intentionally choose
names similar to recognizable journals within the field. Overall, this is a much more professional
website. If you would like more practice using the
evaluation techniques discussed in this session, the description of this video includes links
to case studies that can help you sharpen your skills. I’d like to leave you with some key take-away
points from this session: Remember, not all open access journals are
predatory! Predatory journals exist to make profits – not
to publish scientific research. Publishing in a predatory journal can be harmful
to your reputation and limit the visibility and impact of your research. And finally, there are tools available that
can help you investigate journals and search for red flags. You don’t have to do it alone! Use the tools available and protect yourself
from these predatory journals. If you have any questions about the material
covered in this webinar, or have questions specific to your own research, please don’t
hesitate to contact me at [email protected] Here are my references. Thank you for taking the time to listen to
an “Introduction to Predatory Publishing,” a part of the “Get Yourself Published, Promote
Your Research” webinar series from the Himmelfarb Library. If you enjoyed this webinar, please join us
for the next installment in our series, Copyright for Authors, which will be released on Wednesday,
March 25th, 2020 at 12pm. Please fill out our feedback survey by following
the link on this slide or click the link in the description below. Thank you for listening!

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