Predatory Publishing

The term Predatory Publishing refers to fraudulent publishing practices. Predatory journals are pretending to be academic publications. They charge fees for the publication of the submitted articles which are to be paid by the authors  (Article Processing Charges/APCs). However, these fees are not met by a corresponding services: Peer review is only simulated, the articles are not listed in subject-specific databases, and long-term availability on the web is not guaranteed.

This also applies to so-called Predatory Conferences: The organisers stage multiple conferences on the same date at the same location. For a fee, participants are given the opportunity to give their presentation to an audience which is largely unfamiliar with the subject. 

Predatory publishing vs. scientific code of practice

Publications of research results in so-called predatory journals are not necessarly of inferior quality, but they always run the risk of being judged not to meet the scientific standards.

  • Lack of quality control: Peer reviewing of research results is complex and time-consuming, but it ensures that questionable or incorrect research results are weeded before they are disseminated to the scientific community. Predatory publishers without quality control make it possible to publish false results and undermine confidence in serious research.
  • Long-term availability and citeability are not assured: Articles in predatory journals can disappear overnight if the online platform is shut down.
  • Lack of visibility: Publications with established publishers are indexed and traceable in library catalogues, general or specialist citation databases (e.g. Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, Inspec) and search engines (Google Scholar). Articles in predatory journals, on the other hand, can often only be found via general search engines and are not perceived by the scientific community.
  • Damage to scientific reputation: The publication in a Predatory Journal can damage the reputation of the individual scientist, but also of the institution, since the scientific quality is always implicitly flawed.

How do you recognize Predatory Journals?

There are well over 100.000 scientific e-journals, and new journals are added every week. Not every unknown title is of poor quality or the product of a pirate publisher. Nevertheless, you should critically check where you want to publish your research results (Think. Check. Submit. is a great place to start):

  • Blacklists: Does the title or publisher appear on one of the predatory publishers blacklists (e.g. Stop Predatory Journals)? Unfortunately, the blacklists evaluation cannot be relied upon in all cases, but they can serve as a warning signal to collect further information (e.g. with an Internet search with the title of the journal and the search term "predatory").
  • Was the publisher actively asking you (e.g. by e-mail) to submit articles without you having had any personal contact with the publisher? This is a common practice of predatory publishers in order to acquire customers.
  • Are the reviewers and publishers known in the scientific community? Do the members of the board indicate the activity for the journal on their own websites? Do the names appear in several journals which do not belong to the same research field? Predatory publishers often name scientists as editors or reviewers without actually letting themr participate in peer reviews, sometimes even without their knowledge.    
  • What metrics (e.g. for measuring citations) does the publisher provide? Are they established and can they be verified?
  • Are publication costs and copyright information made transparent?   
  • Is there any evidence that the texts on the Internet platform have been generated or translated by machine?
  • Is the time frame of the peer review traceable? An evaluation procedure within just a few days is not realistic.
  • How do you assess the quality of the contributions published in the journal ? Do scientists from your peer group publish there?
  • And last but not least: Is the SuUB ready to cover the publication costs? SuUB's Open Access funding policy prohibits the financing of contributions to predatory journals, so every request is checked accordingly (contact: publizieren@suub.uni-bremen.de, Tel. 59415).

Please note that any content displayed on this page is presented here for information purposes only and is neither intended as nor constitutes legal advice.

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