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Avoid predatory journals

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On the Internet, there is a growing number of unscrupulous publishers who take advantage of the author-payer model (APC, Article Processing Charges) of Open Access journals.

These "predatory journals" usually operate by soliciting researchers via untimely e-mails inviting them to submit articles. The problem, besides the pollution of the researchers' mailboxes, is that quality control leaves something to be desired and the peer-review process is generally non-existent, with sometimes very high APCs required from authors.

These predatory journals damage the reputation of researchers and the scientific community when they find themselves associated with them by having published an article that is likely to be of poor quality and poorly peer-reviewed. Moreover, in the absence of a permanent archiving policy, the full texts are likely to disappear when these journals cease, which last 2 or 3 years at most.

In addition, these journals undermine the credibility of Open Access publication with certain authors. However, all Open Access journals, whether they require APCs or not, are obviously not predatory journals but are a major tool to ensure the dissemination of scientific knowledge as widely as possible. Find out here how to find an Open Access journal to publish in.

In 2008, Jeffrey Beall compiled a list of potentially predatory dubious journals. He had been forced to remove it from the web, but since then it has been recovered and updated, anonymously, by the scientific community. If you are in doubt about a journal in which you plan to publish, you can consult these lists of potentially predatory journals and publishers.

Attention however, the fact that a journal or a publisher is listed in this list is a warning signal but it is necessary that you conduct your own analysis, so as not to draw any hasty conclusion.

enlightenedAsk your more experienced colleagues: do they know the review? Have they already published there?

enlightenedThe fact that a journal is referenced in DOAJ, member of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics), or member of OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) is, a priori, a good sign concerning the quality and integrity of the journal. Visit the journal's website and check to see if you find these mentions. Be careful though, some publishers don't hesitate to lie about it.

enlightenedHere are a few clues (non-exhaustive list) to help you identify and avoid predatory reviews  Attention, some clues can be found in young or low budget journals.

  • Invitation to publish sent by email (spam), flattering you and/or flattering the journal
  • No contact email address or non-professional email address (gmail, yahoo)
  • Poor grammar and syntax
  • Promise of an acceptance decision and very rapid publication
  • No transparency on the peer review process
  • Very short deadlines given to reviewers (ex. 5 to 14 days)
  • The publisher is not, or hardly, identifiable
  • No ethical guidelines, or guidelines common to all journals of the same publisher
  • Articles or manuscripts must be submitted by email
  • The publisher has a wide range of journals, many of which are on the same subject and may have very similar names
  • Some journals do not yet have issues, or only one issue published
  • Presence of dummy metrics      Warning, some predatory reviews have an Impact Factor, or display false IFs
  • Editorial committee non-existent or very restricted
  • Non-expert members of the journal theme
  • Inaccurate or non-existent institutional affiliations
  • Website not functional, pages inaccessible
  • Publication costs (APC) not apparent at time of submission
  • Very high or, on the contrary, very low publication costs (APC)
  • Acceptance of the majority of articles submitted

Do not hesitate to contact the editorial team or the editor-in-chief of a journal, to ask them specific questions on points that seem obscure to you.

enlightenedSee, a resource to help you choose an appropriate journal to publish your research results.

enlightenedYou can also consult this quick guide produced by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries