Predatory publishers are corrupting open access

Be very careful of solicitations from publishers.

Journals that exploit the author-pays model damage scholarly publishing and promote unethical behaviour by scientists...

Early experiments with open-access publishing, such as the Journal of Medical Internet Research and BioMed Central, were very promising.

Then came predatory publishers, which publish counterfeit journals to exploit the open-access model in which the author pays. These predatory publishers are dishonest and lack transparency. They aim to dupe researchers, especially those inexperienced in scholarly communication. They set up websites that closely resemble those of legitimate online publishers, and publish journals of questionable and downright low quality. Many purport to be headquartered in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Australia but really hail from Pakistan, India or Nigeria.

Some predatory publishers spam researchers, soliciting manuscripts but failing to mention the required author fee. Later, after the paper is accepted and published, the authors are invoiced for the fees, typically US$1,800.

The predatory publishers and journals often have lofty titles that make them seem legitimate in a list of publications on a CV. India,... new predatory publishers or journals emerge each week.

Unethical scientists gaming the system are earning tenure and promotion at the expense of the honest. The competition for author fees among fraudulent publishers is a serious threat to the future of science communication.

The research community needs to use scholarly social networks such as Connotea and Mendeley to identify and share information on publishers that deceive, lack transparency or otherwise fail to follow industry standards. Scientific literacy must include the ability to recognize publishing fraud, and libraries must remove predatory publishers from their online catalogues. [emphasis mine]

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Replies to This Discussion

The proliferation of predatory publishers is one symptom of larger problem, the obsolesence of print journal media. A lively discussion of the issues begins at Whither Science Publishing?.

I especially like response to

QUESTION 1: What are the main problems with the existing system for publishing scientific research?

by Patrick Taylor:

... research publication is still mainly considered apart from the larger public ecosystem in which understandable and valid discoveries, engagement and public support for knowledge, and scientific methods are all intertwined. It’s that decontextualization that leads to narrow discussions about business models for publication, or to benchmarking problems as lapses from a recent status quo, rather than asking ourselves: What would a robust, imaginative, future device for encouraging pertinent inquiry, and validating and disseminating scientific knowledge to peers, policy-makers, and public, optimally look like?

I didn't know that they made you pay that much to publish your study. I remember the professor said $300 to print a study he submitted - something like a review fee or something. Wow - but $1,800 is really a scam.

A slightly related tangent: there are many "impostor" advocacy organizations and "professional associations" (usually right-wing groups) designed to deceive the public into confusing them with legitimate, mainstream organizations.

A few examples:


(These are from (malformed HTML - view page source to see contents). I've added many of the links about the phony, knockoff organizations.)

Hi Ruth.Someone in the publishing business once explained to me that the tax stipulations of for profit publishing require up front tax payments for a publishing distribution. This would seem to be unrelated to scientific publishing. Could you comment on the not for profit aspect of scientific publishing?

Sorry, ignorant of that topic.




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