COPE Forum discussion on predatory publishing

The next online COPE Forum, Monday 5 November 2018, 4pm-5.30pm (GMT), follows the usual format where members' cases are presented for discussion and advice from all those participating in the Forum. Register for the Forum (COPE members only)

The Forum discussion topic this month is around Predatory Publishing. Add your comments to the discussion below (non-members also welcome to comment):

What are the issues?

  • Predatory publishing is generally defined as for-profit open access journal publication of scholarly articles without the benefit of peer review by experts in the field or the usual editorial oversight of the journals in question. The journals have no standards and no quality control and frequently publish within a very brief period of time while claiming that articles are peer-reviewed. Those who publish in these journals are frequently invited to serve on editorial boards or become editors with no reference to relevant experience to assume such roles
  • Confusion between some legitimate open-access peer review journals and predatory open-access journals
  • Predatory journals sometimes include legitimate scholars on their editorial masthead without the permission or knowledge of those individuals
  • The Name Game – Predatory publishers frequently choose names that are very similar to the names of legitimate peer-reviewed journals
  • Problem with the title ‘predatory publishing’ as treating authors, who knowingly publish in predatory journals, as innocent victims
  • Who publishes in predatory journals? Many junior faculty and faculty from developing world and countries where English is a second language
  • The related problem of predatory conferences and predatory proceeding publications
  • Public loses faith in scholarly research and public government grants are questioned in terms of legitimacy of products of research
  • Role of global university research rankings in adding to the pressure of publish or perish

Recent discussion

On prevalence

August 10, 2018, The Guardian stated that “more than 175,000 scientific articles have been provided by five of the largest ‘predatory open-access publishers’, including India-based Omics Publishing group and the Turkish World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, or Waset”.

On the label predatory publishing

July 10, 2018, The Economist, “…the ‘predatory’ label has proven broadly misleading. Authors typically know what’s up, or at least should when visiting journal websites rife with glaring errors of language and wild claims, such as rigorous peer reviews that can be completed in a jiffy.” [Further, there appears to be]…apparent collusions or at least the turning of a conveniently blind eye, appears most common in poorer countries.”
October 30, 2017, The New York Times, Gina Kolata notes “…its increasingly clear that many academics know exactly what they’re getting into, which explains why these journals have proliferated despite wide criticism.”

Questions and possible solutions

  • Whose problem is it?
  • What do we have within our power that we can do?
  • Is general advice at all useful, like Think.Check.Submit?
  • Might preprints solve the problem anyway?
  • How are publication ethics enforced globally? Is this even realistically possible?
  • Approaches to address the problem of poor countries where scholars are trying to publish in  English which is not their first language
  • Help with publish or perish pressures, especially among junior scholars
  • Mitigation of global rankings (or not)
  • Other…..

This will be discussed at the start of the next COPE Forum on Monday 5 November. Please do leave any comments below, whether or not you are planning on joining the meeting

Comments are reviewed and, on approval, added below.

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