Defining predatory journals and responding to the threat they pose: a modified Delphi consensus process

Authors : Samantha Cukier, Manoj M. Lalu, Gregory L. Bryson, Kelly D. Cobey, Agnes Grudniewicz, David Moher

Background

Posing as legitimate open access outlets, predatory journals and publishers threaten the integrity of academic publishing by not following publication best practices. Currently, there is no agreed upon definition of predatory journals, making it difficult for funders and academic institutions to generate practical guidance or policy to ensure their members do not publish in these channels.

Methods

We conducted a modified three-round Delphi survey of an international group of academics, funders, policy makers, journal editors, publishers and others, to generate a consensus definition of predatory journals and suggested ways the research community should respond to the problem.

Results

A total of 45 participants completed the survey on predatory journals and publishers. We reached consensus on 18 items out of a total of 33, to be included in a consensus definition of predatory journals and publishers.

We came to consensus on educational outreach and policy initiatives on which to focus, including the development of a single checklist to detect predatory journals and publishers, and public funding to support research in this general area.

We identified technological solutions to address the problem: a ‘one-stop-shop’ website to consolidate information on the topic and a ‘predatory journal research observatory’ to identify ongoing research and analysis about predatory journals/publishers.

Conclusions

In bringing together an international group of diverse stakeholders, we were able to use a modified Delphi process to inform the development of a definition of predatory journals and publishers.

This definition will help institutions, funders and other stakeholders generate practical guidance on avoiding predatory journals and publishers.

URL : Defining predatory journals and responding to the threat they pose: a modified Delphi consensus process

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1101/19010850

Perspectives From Authors and Editors in the Biomedical Disciplines on Predatory Journals: Survey Study

Authors : Andrew J Cohen, German Patino, Puneet Kamal, Medina Ndoye, Anas Tresh, Jorge Mena, Christi Butler, Samuel Washington, Benjamin N Breyer

Background

Predatory journals fail to fulfill the tenets of biomedical publication: peer review, circulation, and access in perpetuity. Despite increasing attention in the lay and scientific press, no studies have directly assessed the perceptions of the authors or editors involved.

Objective

Our objective was to understand the motivation of authors in sending their work to potentially predatory journals. Moreover, we aimed to understand the perspective of journal editors at journals cited as potentially predatory.

Methods

Potential online predatory journals were randomly selected among 350 publishers and their 2204 biomedical journals. Author and editor email information was valid for 2227 total potential participants.

A survey for authors and editors was created in an iterative fashion and distributed. Surveys assessed attitudes and knowledge about predatory publishing. Narrative comments were invited.

Results

A total of 249 complete survey responses were analyzed. A total of 40% of editors (17/43) surveyed were not aware that they were listed as an editor for the particular journal in question.

A total of 21.8% of authors (45/206) confirmed a lack of peer review. Whereas 77% (33/43) of all surveyed editors were at least somewhat familiar with predatory journals, only 33.0% of authors (68/206) were somewhat familiar with them (P<.001). Only 26.2% of authors (54/206) were aware of Beall’s list of predatory journals versus 49% (21/43) of editors (P<.001).

A total of 30.1% of authors (62/206) believed their publication was published in a predatory journal. After defining predatory publishing, 87.9% of authors (181/206) surveyed would not publish in the same journal in the future.

Conclusions

Authors publishing in suspected predatory journals are alarmingly uninformed in terms of predatory journal quality and practices. Editors’ increased familiarity with predatory publishing did little to prevent their unwitting listing as editors.

Some suspected predatory journals did provide services akin to open access publication. Education, research mentorship, and a realignment of research incentives may decrease the impact of predatory publishing.

URL : Perspectives From Authors and Editors in the Biomedical Disciplines on Predatory Journals: Survey Study

DOI : https://doi.org/10.2196/13769

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

Objectives

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.

Design

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.

Participants

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

Results

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.

Conclusions

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

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026516

Hype or Real Threat: The Extent of Predatory Journals in Student Bibliographies

Authors : H. Rainer Schira, Chris Hurst

Predatory publishing has risen with the development of open access publishing. This study examines how many potential predatory journals were used by Brandon University students by analyzing their bibliographies.

In total, 245 bibliographies including 2,359 citations were analyzed. Of the 1,485 citations to journals in these citations, five were found to cite journals on Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers.

The probable sources of these journals in the students’ bibliographies were examined.

URL : Hype or Real Threat: The Extent of Predatory Journals in Student Bibliographies

DOI : https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v14i1.4764

Revisiting the Term Predatory Open Access Publishing

Author : Aamir Raoof Memon

Since the 1990s, scholarly publishing has been transformed from subscription print-based paradigm to an open access and digital publishing model, but this transformation has been accompanied by unethical and predatory publishing practices.

‘Pay-to-publish’ predatory journals abuse the open-access publishing model, and their main intention is to make money out of authors for their editor–owners. The defining characteristic of predatory journals is the lack of a proper peer review process, despite their claims to the contrary.

The spectrum of victims of predatory journals varies widely and includes inexperienced, early-career and naive researchers from both developing and high- to upper middle-income countries, together with experienced researchers.

To circumvent this, several black and whitelists have been created. Beall’s list of potential or probable predatory journals remained the go-to list until its sudden closure.

Later, similar lists such as the Stop Predatory Journals website (https://predatoryjournals.com), and institutional lists such as those published by the University Grants Commission (UGC) India, and several other commercial bodies and associations appeared; however, they have been criticized for several reasons, including their poor methodology and lack of transparency.

The world of scholarly publishing is not purely black and white, and there are always some grey areas; therefore, we cannot rely on any such listings.

URL : Revisiting the Term Predatory Open Access Publishing

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2019.34.e99

Potential predatory journals are colonizing the ICMJE recommendations list of followers

Authors : Dal-Ré R., Marušić A.

BACKGROUND

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has expressed its concerns about predatory journals using the list of ICMJE Recommendations (ICMJE-R) followers to “gain the appearance of legitimacy.”

We assessed the presence of potential predatory journals on the ICMJE-R list and their adherence to ICMJE recommendations.

METHODS

A random sample of 350 journals from the estimated 3,100-3,200 biomedical journals listed as ICMJE-R followers was chosen. Data collected from the ICMJE and journal webpages in English were: adherence to six ICMJE-R policies/requirements, year of journal’s listing as ICMJE-R follower, discipline covered, publisher and its country of origin and existence of article processing charge.

Potential predatory journal was considered as one open access journal not being a member of a recognized listing in COPE, DOAJ, OASPA, AJOL and/or INASP.

RESULTS

Thirty-one percent of journals were considered to be potentially predatory; 94% of them were included in the ICMJE-R list in 2014-2018. Half were published in the United States and 62% were devoted to medicine.

Adherence to five of the six policies/requirements was infrequent, ranging from 51% (plagiarism) to 7% (trial registration). Seventy-two percent of journals mentioned a policy on authors’ conflicts of interest. Information on article processing charge was available for 76% journals and could not be found for 22%.

Authorship policy/ instructions were significantly more present in journals with publishers from India than from the USA (53% vs 30%; p = 0.047), with no differences in the other five policies.

CONCLUSION

Predatory journals should be deleted from the ICMJE-R list of followers to prevent misleading authors. ICMJE-R following journals need to be reevaluated with pre-defined published criteria.

URL : http://www.njmonline.nl/getpdf.php?id=2093

Is Scopus Polluting Its Own Database by Indexing Junk articles? A Case Study of Five Journals

Author : Jackie Earle Haley

The aim of this short research note is to demonstrate that Scopus is polluting its own databases, unintentionally or otherwise, by indexing junk articles. I have used five journals indexed by Scopus in this research note as examples in a case study format.

I have found that the publication rate of junk articles for these five journals increased after they began to be indexed in Scopus. These journals are publishing conference papers and graduate students’ initial research reports in which there are many errors.

This makes the indexing of The Journal of Social Sciences Research (Online ISSN: 2411-9458/Print ISSN: 2413-6670) questionable as it was considered for evaluation before its current two year publication history.

The quality of its published articles is very poor, and it has advertised and promoted false figures for its impact factors. These journals publish articles that are out of their scope and publish every article on condition of payment of a fee by the author that averages out to about 400 USD per article.

Given that these journals have been advertising and promoting fake impact factors prior to their being indexed in Scopus and given that Scopus has included them in its central index, they are deceiving young researchers and the broader academic community with false information.

Beall (2016) has previously pointed out the issue of the falsified impact factor information in his list of predatory journals. Many universities subscribe to Scopus to, among other reasons, measure the impact of their faculty members’ research.

There is therefore a need to address the ethics of this situation, and this study recommends that Scopus carefully index new journals but observe the publication rates of junk articles, and if an indexed journal makes such an error, to take a decision within three months and impose a lifetime ban on indexing the journal.

URL : https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3322183