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Beyond unsuspecting, new researchers, a trend has emerged wherein seasoned researchers, and even a Nobel Laureate have been victimised by predatory journals. Regarded as a menace to the credibility and authenticity of scientific research and communication, predatory journals unethically cater to the growing demand among academics to have their research published.
What is a predatory journal, how can you identify one, and what consequences might you face if you submit to one of those?
Demystifying predatory journals
The definition of a predatory journal is surrounded by an enigma. With no universally accepted definition, the term can be interpreted in different ways. In simple terms, it is a journal that solicits manuscripts and charges publication fees without providing a reliable peer review and editorial service.
In fact, manuscript authors hardly receive any benefits of publishing to such journals and are misled to trust a journal with a fake impact factor, fake editorial board, and journal names that seem very similar to those of actual reputed journals.
Predatory journals often mislead authors about their peer review process
Peer review has maintained its mantle of scientific validation throughout centuries of publishing. Through this process, independent experts evaluate the importance and technical accuracy of the research findings. The feedback, in conjunction with editors’ guidance, often leads to significant improvements in the manuscript’s structure and logic, which ultimately enhances its readability and appeal to readers.
Predatory journals usually do not have the time, resources, and reviewers to conduct a thorough peer review process, and will more often than not, mislead authors about the process’s validity.
How to spot a predatory journal
Before selecting a journal for submission, authors must select a checklist that:
- Has a clear threshold value for evaluating potential predatory journals
- Is founded on rigorous empirical evidence
Predatory journals can be identified by several key characteristics. Here are a few tips that can help identify one:
- Check if the journal relies on Google Scholar for calculating the Impact Factor. Google Scholar does not examine any publications for quality and cannot be relied upon to source these metrics.
- Check if the manuscripts published align with the theme and research area that the journal claims to explore. Many predatory journals publish manuscripts from unrelated research areas for financial gain.
- Check if the journal uses the actual words “Impact Factor” in the name of the metric. This is usually a sign of a predatory journal.
- Find out if previous manuscripts published in the journal and the website information contain spelling and grammatical errors or are of poor quality.
- Verify the contact information of the journal’s institution. Many predatory journals list out incorrect contact information.
- Verify the association of the editorial board members and the collaborating research organisations listed out on the website with the journal, by reviewing their LinkedIn or research profiles. Many predatory journals add this information to mislead authors, without the person or organisation’s consent.
- Read about their peer review policy and look for any suspicious information. Predatory journals provide an unbelievably fast review process, which cannot be trusted.
- Check if the journal requests fee before the submission of the manuscript. This is also a sign of unethical publishing.
What happens if you publish in a predatory journal?
The consequences of publishing in predatory journals can be detrimental to researchers. It can undermine their credibility in academic circles, harm their reputation as ethical researchers, and reduce the chances of their manuscripts getting published in reputable journals. Therefore, one must exercise caution and care to ensure that they submit their work in a trustworthy venue.
For more guidance and support, head over to Elsevier Author Services for resources and support on selecting the correct journal that you can trust without fail.