Predatory journals are even able sometimes to scam some senior scientists who should know better

GEITP emailings have frequently covered this topic of “predatory” “online, open-access” journals that have exploded in the past few years and now number more than 8,000 (some estimates are as high as 15,000). Pseudoscientific “editors” and “publishers” of predatory journals are easy to please. They will publish ANY paper –– with lit­tle regard for quality, at a fraction of the cost charged by mainstream open-access journals. These supposedly scholarly publishing entities are murky operations, making money by collecting fees while fail­ing to deliver on their claims of being open access and failing to provide services such as peer review and archiving. See attached 1-page editorial, plus a 3-page commentary with statistics. Note the incredible story that, upon realization a senior scientist had submitted a paper to one of these predatory journal, and then he had immediate removal of his article, the journal revoked his submission without paying the publishing charge) but responded that a $319 retrac­tion fee was due. Of course, such fees are unheard of at legitimate journals.

Despite abundant evidence that the bar is low, not much is known about who pub­lishes in this shady realm, and common wisdom assumes that the hazard of predatory publishing is restricted mainly to the developing world. In one famous sting, a journalist for Science sent a purposely flawed paper to 140 presumed predatory titles (and to a roughly equal num­ber of other open-access titles), pretending to be a biologist based in an African capital city. At least two earlier smaller surveys found that most authors were in India or elsewhere in Asia. Therefore, a campaign to warn scholars about predatory journals has concentrated its efforts in Africa, China, India, the Middle East and Russia.

Frequent, aggressive solicitations from predatory publishers are generally considered merely a nuisance for scientists from rich countries –– not a threat to scholarly integrity.

However, authors [attached] dispute this view. They spent 12 months characterizing nearly 2,000 biomedical articles from more than 200 journals thought likely to be predatory. More than half the corresponding authors hailed from “high- and upper-middle-income coun­tries”, as defined by the World Bank. Of the 17% of sampled articles that reported a funding source, the most frequently named funder was the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The United States produced more articles in their sample than all other countries, except India. Harvard University (with 9 articles) in Cambridge, Massachu­setts, and the University of Texas (with 11 articles across all campuses) were among the eight institutions with the most articles. It is easy to imagine other, similar institutions coming up in a different sample. The point is, the problem of predatory jour­nals is more urgent than many realize.

Authors urge that publishers, research insti­tutions, and funders should issue explicit warnings against illegitimate publishers and develop cohesive recommendations on pub­lication integrity together. Funders and research institutions should: [a] increase the funds that they make available towards open-access publication; [b] prohibit the use of funds to support predatory journal publications; [c] make sure that researchers are trained in how to select appropriate journals when submitting their work; and [d] audit where grantees, faculty members and research staff publish. When seeking promotion or fund­ing, researchers should include a declaration that their CV is free of predatory publications. Publication lists could be checked against lists such as the Directory of Open Access Jour­nals (DOAJ) or the Journal Citation Reports. Developing automated tools to facilitate the proposed audits would also be valuable.

Before approving a study, ethics com­mittees should ask researchers to declare in writing their willingness to work with their institutional resources, such as librarians, to ensure they do not submit to any journals without reviewing evidence-based criteria for avoiding these titles. If not, predatory journals will continue to erode the integrity of scientific scholarship. Substandard publications have polluted authentic electronic databases. A problem largely unknown a decade ago, there are now a roughly estimated 8,000 predatory titles that collectively ‘publish’ more than 400,000 items a year. We need to cut off the supply of manuscripts to these illegitimate outfits.

Nature 7 Sept 2o17; 549: 7 [editorial] plus 23–25

COMMENT: Dear all:
Want to share this for context. A bit long, but I found it casts the shadow of predictory (profitable) publishing ethics in the light of changing practices! Worth a read.

This from the Guardian early this summer.

Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? | Science | The Guardian

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