Authors: Warren Burggren, Dilip K. Madasu, Kevin S. Hawkins, Martin Halbert
Open access (OA) journals have proliferated in recent years. Many journals are highly reputable, delivering on the promise of open access to research as an alternative to traditional, subscriptionbased journals.
Yet some OA journals border on, or clearly fall within, the realm of so-called “predatory journals.” Most discussion of such journals has focused on the quality of articles published within them.
Considerably less attention has been paid to the marketing practices of predatory journals—primarily their mass e-mailing—and to the impact that this practice may have on recipients’ perception of OA journals as a whole.
This study analyzed a subset of the 1,816 e-mails received by a single university biology faculty member during a 24-month period (2015 and 2016) with an update from December 2017 and January 2018.
Of those e-mails sent in 2015, approximately 37% were copies or near-copies of previous e-mail messages sent to the recipient, less than 25% of e-mails from predatory journals mentioned publication fees, only about 30% of soliciting journals were listed in DOAJ, and only about 4% had an identifiable impact factor.
While most e-mails indicated a purported familiarity with, and respect for, the recipient, more than two thirds of the e-mails did not, implying use of mass-e-mailing methodologies.
Almost 80% of the e-mail solicitations had grammar and/or spelling mistakes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, only a staggeringly small 4% of e-mails were judged highly relevant to the recipient’s area of expertise.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
In light of the marketing practices of many predatory journals, we advocate specific instructions for librarians, faculty mentors, and administrators of legitimate OA journals as they interact with new researchers, junior faculty, and other professionals learning how to discern the quality of journals that send direct e-mail solicitations.