Predatory publishing has become an organized industry

Predatory publishing has become an organized industry. The [attached] article underscores the seriousness of these crimes against Real Science. As GEITP has shared before, an increasing number of academic journals do not aspire to Quality in Science; rather, they exist primarily to extract fees (i.e. steal money) from authors who fervently desire to publish something –– anything. These PREDATORY JOURNALS exhibit question­able marketing schemes, follow lax (or non-existent) peer-review procedures, and fail to provide scientific rigor or transparency.

The “open-access” movement –– although noble in its intent –– has been an unwitting host to these parasitic publishers. Bogus journals can imitate legitimate ones that also collect fees from authors. Researchers, eager to publish (otherwise fearing that their careers might perish), sometimes (or often?) submit their papers, with or without verify­ing a journal’s reputability.

Crucial to a journal’s quality is its editors. Editors decide whether a paper is reviewed and by whom, and whether a submission should be rejected, revised or accepted. Such roles have usually been assigned to established experts in the journal’s field, and are considered prestigious positions. Authors [of attached article] created a profile of a fictitious scientist named Anna O. Szust, and applied on her behalf to the editorial boards of 360 journals. “Oszust” is the Polish word for ‘a fraud’. They gave her fake scientific degrees, credited her with being author of spoof book chapters, and numerous scientific accomplishments.

Authors then sent Szust’s application to 360 journals –– 120 from each of three well-known direc­tories: the JCR (journals with an official impact factor as indexed on Journal Citation Reports), the DOAJ (journals included on the Directory of Open Access Journals), and ‘Beall’s list’ (potential, possible or probable predatory open-access publishers and jour­nals, compiled by Univ Colorado librarian Jeffrey Beall; Beall took down his list in January this year for unknown reasons, after this study was completed).

In 2o13 (Science 342, 60–65) an article that was shared on GEITP, journalist John Bohannon revealed gaping holes in the peer-review system when his fictitious, purposely flawed research arti­cle was accepted for publication by 157 of 304 open-access journals to which it was submitted, contingent on payment of author fees. His project did not include non-open-access journals, nor did it explicitly compare titles that did or did not have an impact fac­tor. Bohannon’s study was criticized for targeting specific journals and for persistent corre­spondence with editorial boards.

In contrast, the current article [attached] was designed to explicitly com­pare white-listed and black-listed journals. Although some journals listed as predatory did act honorably (for instance, some sent Szust papers to review), such journals were by far the most likely to accept an unqualified candidate and to try to profit from her. The number of active predatory journals has increased at an alarming rate. By 2o15, more than half a million papers had been published in predatory journals, and at the end of 2o16, the number of predatory jour­nals on Beall’s list (about 10,000) approached the number indexed by the DOAJ and JCR. Most are hosted by publishers (including some industry giants)..!!

Nature 23 March 2o17 543: 481-483

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