Investigating academic library responses to predatory publishing in the United States, Canada and Spanish-speaking Latin America

Authors : Jairo Buitrago-Ciro, Lynne Bowker


This is a comparative investigation of how university libraries in the United States, Canada and Spanish-speaking Latin America are responding to predatory publishing.


The Times Higher Education World University Rankings was used to identify the top ten universities from each of the US and Canada, as well as the top 20 Spanish-language universities in Latin America.

Each university library’s website was scrutinized to discover whether the libraries employed scholarly communication librarians, whether they offered scholarly communication workshops, or whether they shared information about scholarly communication on their websites. This information was further examined to determine if it discussed predatory publishing specifically.


Most libraries in the US/Canada sample employ scholarly communication librarians and nearly half offer workshops on predatory publishing. No library in the Latin America sample employed a scholarly communication specialist and just one offered a workshop addressing predatory publishing.

The websites of the libraries in the US and Canada addressed predatory publishing both indirectly and directly, with US libraries favoring the former approach and Canadian libraries tending towards the latter. Predatory publishing was rarely addressed directly by the libraries in the Latin America sample; however, all discussed self-archiving and/or Open Access.

Research limitations/implications

Brazilian universities were excluded owing to the researchers’ language limitations. Data were collected between September 15 and 30, 2019, so it represents a snapshot of information available at that time.

The study was limited to an analysis of library websites using a fixed set of keywords, and it did not investigate whether other campus units were involved or whether other methods of informing researchers about predatory publishing were being used.


The study reveals some best practices leading to recommendations to help academic libraries combat predatory publishing and improve scholarly publishing literacy among researchers.