What is a predatory journal?
A predatory journal, sometimes also referred to as write-only publishing or predatory open access publishing, is a journal that offers to publish an author’s work for exorbitant fees without offering the other services legitimate journals offer. This includes (but is not limited to) peer reviews, accurate impact factors, or a thorough review process by a handling editor. Predatory journals may also have “fake” members of their editorial board, or list people whom have not been contacted or agreed to be on editorial boards. They often make up their impact factors or other information, such as the number of times articles have been cited or picked up by the media.
What is a predatory conference?
A predatory conference is a parallel to a predatory journal in the sense that it is not run by an editorial board or an over-arching society. These have unfortunately only been growing in number and are often characterized by a “rolling” acceptance of abstracts, little or no review of abstracts, and seemingly no organization to how or when talks and presentations are scheduled.
How do you avoid predatory publishing?
Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule, and these groups don’t announce themselves as ‘for profit’ journals or conferences. There are, however, several warning signs:
- You have been solicited due to previously published work to submit a manuscript to a journal or attend a conference. These emails assume everyone has received their PhD (so a large red flag for those who have not) and often refer to you as a ‘leader of your field’. Oftentimes, they ask you to submit the same work you have already published elsewhere.
- Manuscripts and abstracts are handled within a matter of days. Even the most efficient journals take a few weeks, and the same is often true for conference acceptance. If the turn around is less than two weeks, especially for journals, it’s a good reason to proceed with caution.
- The journals charge an extremely high fee. While it is unfortunately true that most open access publishing is still costly, these publications likely cost more than others in their fields.
- There is little or no peer review process. Review other articles published by the journal – if it is a predatory journal, you will likely come across nonsensical articles, or even possibly articles unrelated to the journal’s “topic”.
- The journals or conferences reference fake academics whom, upon searching, don’t exist. Alternatively, they claim patronage or attendance of a very well-known academic (or even several), despite said academic having no knowledge of this.
- The journal or conference’s homepage has not been edited. These sites are often put up in a hurry and not proofread. In contrast, conferences and journals make their living through publishing, and are usually very thorough to make sure their pages are proofread and all their links work. That isn’t to say mistakes don’t happen, but they are far, far less common on professional pages.
If you even think a journal or conference is possibly predatory, trust your instincts. Stop for a moment and investigate – you worked hard on your material, so there is nothing wrong with taking your time to decide who to publish with! Ask your peers for second opinions, or consult some resources put together on the internet. Unfortunately, there is no “Yelp” or “Angie’s List” for journals, but there are a few resources that could help you narrow down whether you’re facing a predatory journal.
Think. Check. Attend. is an organization meant to support academics trying to avoid predatory conferences. They provided a checklist to help users decided whether or not a conference is legitimate.