Predatory Publishers and Fake Academia

Many Information Professionals are probably very well aware of this issue. However it is so important that I feel compelled to share this New York Times article (above) despite the fact I may only be repeating some well known facts.

In a nutshell, these ‘publishers’ exploit the fact that academics rely on publishing their work to further their careers (known as the “publish or perish” system of professional advancement). While the conferences and journals may appear respectable, in the end they are fraudulent, usually scam money out of unsuspecting academics and pump out worthless articles.

So how can one ensure they are not being scammed?

Originally this post was going to send you to a great resource – Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers. Beall is an academic librarian at the University of Colorado. According to his site: “This year, 2016, marks the sixth annual release of this list, which is also continuously updated. The list this year includes 923 publishers, an increase of 230 over 2015.”(You can read more about Beall and how he came to develop this list in this Nature article.) This list has received praise, but also criticisms of being unfair. However, very recently this list was taken down. Emil Karlsson has summarised this event, as well as providing links to archived copies of the lists on the blog ‘Debunking Denialism‘. The erasure of Beall’s blog has also promoted an excellent article in The Conversation on predatory publishing.

The American Journal Experts have  written a great list of ‘8 Ways to Identify a Questionable Open Access Journal‘ and Brunel University London have compiled some great resources for those unsure where to start. For example, checking in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – a list of verified open access journals which meet the DOAJ’s criteria. Other suggestions include looking for ‘red flags’ by checking if the journal is peer reviewed, and whether full contact details are provided.

It is important to note that Open Access is not synonymous with predatory publishing, and traditional publishing can also be predatory, despite its lack of inclusion on many of these lists. Hopefully these predatory journals do not detract from the fantastic work of the Open Access movement in providing much greater access to knowledge around the world. As demonstrated by the original article posted in this blog, it seems it may not always be a clear cut answer as to what is predatory or not. So use your discretion, and of course, check with your librarians!


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