Predatory Publishers using Spamming Strategies for Call for Papers and Review Requests : A Case Study

Author : Alexandru-Ionut Petrisor

Spam e-mail and calls from the predatory publishers are very similar in purpose: they are deceptive and produce material losses. Moreover, the predatory publishers show evolving strategies to lure potential victims, as their number increases. In an effort to help researchers defending against their constant menace, this article aims to identify a set of common features of spam e-mail and calls from predatory publishers.

The methodology consisted of a comparative analysis of data found on the Internet and e-mails received at several addresses during December 2017 – January 2018. The results indicate that concealed, fake or disguised identity of the sender and/or of the message, mass mailing, missing or useless opt-out option and an obvious commercial character are the most prominent common features.

Moreover, the location of predatory publishers is well disguised; the analysis of the real location, found using web-based tools, suggests a joint management or at least a concerted action of several publishers, and raises additional questions related to the reasons of masking the true location.

From a theoretical standpoint, the results show, once again, that predatory publishers are a part of the worldwide scam, and should be ‘convicted’ in a similar way, including the means of legal actions. From a practical perspective, distinct recommendations were phrased for researchers, policy makers, libraries, and future research.

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Publishing Ethics and Predatory Practices: A Dilemma for All Stakeholders of Science Communication

Publishing scholarly articles in traditional and newly-launched journals is a responsible task, requiring diligence from authors, reviewers, editors, and publishers. The current generation of scientific authors has ample opportunities for publicizing their research. However, they have to selectively target journals and publish in compliance with the established norms of publishing ethics. Over the past few years, numerous illegitimate or predatory journals have emerged in most fields of science. By exploiting gold Open Access publishing, these journals paved the way for low-quality articles that threatened to change the landscape of evidence-based science.

Authors, reviewers, editors, established publishers, and learned associations should be informed about predatory publishing practices and contribute to the trustworthiness of scholarly publications. In line with this, there have been several attempts to distinguish legitimate and illegitimate journals by blacklisting unethical journals (the Jeffrey Beall’s list), issuing a statement on transparency and best publishing practices (the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association’s and other global organizations’ draft document), and tightening the indexing criteria by the Directory of Open Access Journals. None of these measures alone turned to be sufficient. All stakeholders of science communication should be aware of multiple facets of unethical practices and publish well-checked and evidence-based articles.