Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey

Authors : Kelly D Cobey, Agnes Grudniewicz, Manoj M Lalu, Danielle B Rice, Hana Raffoul, David Moher


To develop effective interventions to prevent publishing in presumed predatory journals (ie, journals that display deceptive characteristics, markers or data that cannot be verified), it is helpful to understand the motivations and experiences of those who have published in these journals.


An online survey delivered to two sets of corresponding authors containing demographic information, and questions about researchers’ perceptions of publishing in the presumed predatory journal, type of article processing fees paid and the quality of peer review received. The survey also asked six open-ended items about researchers’ motivations and experiences.


Using Beall’s lists, we identified two groups of individuals who had published empirical articles in biomedical journals that were presumed to be predatory.


Eighty-two authors partially responded (~14% response rate (11.4%[44/386] from the initial sample, 19.3%[38/197] from second sample) to our survey. The top three countries represented were India (n=21, 25.9%), USA (n=17, 21.0%) and Ethiopia (n=5, 6.2%).

Three participants (3.9%) thought the journal they published in was predatory at the time of article submission. The majority of participants first encountered the journal via an email invitation to submit an article (n=32, 41.0%), or through an online search to find a journal with relevant scope (n=22, 28.2%).

Most participants indicated their study received peer review (n=65, 83.3%) and that this was helpful and substantive (n=51, 79.7%). More than a third (n=32, 45.1%) indicated they did not pay fees to publish.


This work provides some evidence to inform policy to prevent future research from being published in predatory journals.

Our research suggests that common views about predatory journals (eg, no peer review) may not always be true, and that a grey zone between legitimate and presumed predatory journals exists. These results are based on self-reports and may be biased thus limiting their interpretation.

URL : Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey


Assessing the utility of an institutional publications officer: a pilot assessment

Authors : Kelly D. Cobey, James Galipeau, Larissa Shamseer, David Moher


The scholarly publication landscape is changing rapidly. We investigated whether the introduction of an institutional publications officer might help facilitate better knowledge of publication topics and related resources, and effectively support researchers to publish.


In September 2015, a purpose-built survey about researchers’ knowledge and perceptions of publication practices was administered at five Ottawa area research institutions. Subsequently, we publicly announced a newly hired publications officer (KDC) who then began conducting outreach at two of the institutions.

Specifically, the publications officer gave presentations, held one-to-one consultations, developed electronic newsletter content, and generated and maintained a webpage of resources. In March 2016, we re-surveyed our participants regarding their knowledge and perceptions of publishing.

Mean scores to the perception questions, and the percent of correct responses to the knowledge questions, pre and post survey, were computed for each item. The difference between these means or calculated percentages was then examined across the survey measures.


82 participants completed both surveys. Of this group, 29 indicated that they had exposure to the publications officer, while the remaining 53 indicated they did not. Interaction with the publications officer led to improvements in half of the knowledge items (7/14 variables).

While improvements in knowledge of publishing were also found among those who reported not to have interacted with the publications officer (9/14), these effects were often smaller in magnitude. Scores for some publication knowledge variables actually decreased between the pre and post survey (3/14).

Effects for researchers’ perceptions of publishing increased for 5/6 variables in the group that interacted with the publications officer.


This pilot provides initial indication that, in a short timeframe, introducing an institutional publications officer may improve knowledge and perceptions surrounding publishing.

This study is limited by its modest sample size and temporal relationship between the introduction of the publications officer and changes in knowledge and perceptions. A randomized trial examining the publications officer as an effective intervention is needed.

URL : Assessing the utility of an institutional publications officer: a pilot assessment