In a previous article, I looked at the growing problem of predatory journals. Unlike reputable journals, predatory journals “bombard academics with spam emails, accept almost all submissions and overstate the rigour of their peer-review processes. They also often conveniently neglect to mention publication fees until late in the process.”
A new study1 published in the open access, open peer-reviewed medical journal BMC Medicine has carried out a cross-sectional comparison of characteristics of potential predatory, legitimate open access, and legitimate subscription-based biomedical journals.
From an analysis of 93 predatory, 99 open access, and 100 subscription-based journals, 13 evidence-based characteristics were identified by which predatory journals may potentially be distinguished from presumed legitimate journals.
These characteristics are:
- The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics
- The website contains spelling and grammar errors
- Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized
- The homepage language targets authors
- The Index Copernicus Value is promoted on the website
- Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking
- Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email
- Rapid publication is promised
- There is no retraction policy
- Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent
- The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)
- Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright
- The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., @gmail.com or @yahoo.com)
Researchers need to take note of these findings to help avoid publishing in predatory journals, with two of the paper authors advising in an associated blog post that:
Organisms die due to a lack of oxygen. We need a similar approach to these illegitimate entities. If they are cut off from receiving manuscripts they will cease to exist.
Source: Retraction Watch.
- Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., … & Shea, B. J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC medicine, 15(1), 28. ↩
Also published on Medium.