This week the Cabells Journal Blacklist has hit 13,000 titles, and while the number itself is not that significant, its continued rate of growth shows that the problem of predatory publishing shows no sign of abating. In his latest post, Simon Linacre shares a case study of what a predatory journal looks like and why their continued growth should concern us all.
Firstly, a warning: this post will share a link to a journal that Cabells has identified as predatory in nature, and as such, you should take precautions before giving it a click. This is because there is evidence to show that some predatory journal websites, whether it is by accident or design, contain malware that can infect your computers and its networked systems. So, if you do click on it, please don’t share any information as it could infect your hardware.
Welcome to the dark world of predatory publishing.
Despite the risks, it is useful to look at a specific predatory journal to gain some insight into how they operate and what they contain. The example we are using is the International Journal of Science Technology & Management, which appears to be based in India and has been publishing several issues annually since 2012, and includes hundreds of articles freely accessible as pdfs. This particular journal has one of the highest numbers of breaches of our Blacklist criteria, some of which are included below to help explain why the journal is predatory:
- Editors do not actually exist or are deceased. The journal does not name an Editor or Editors but has a huge list of names and affiliations, many of which do not actually exist or are listed without their knowledge.
- The journal’s website does not have a clearly stated peer review policy. The journal states it is “refereed”, but there is no evidence this occurs.
- Falsely claims indexing in well-known databases (especially SCOPUS, DOAJ, JCR, and Cabells). This is a key indicator of predatory journals, and can be easily checked – this particular journal claims it is indexed by Cabells (this is categorically untrue), listed by DOAJ (also false) and has an Impact Factor of 2.012 (most definitely incorrect).
- The website does not identify a physical address for the publisher or gives a fake address. Sometimes an address will be given that is the same address as 8,459 other businesses, which is remarkable in that it turns out to be a small terraced house in suburban England. In this example, there is an address you can find after some searching, but the address is spelled incorrectly and the location in India is also home to dozens of other journals and conferences the publisher operates, but no offices.
- The publisher or journal’s website seems too focused on the payment of fees. Many predatory publishers charge the going rate of $1,000+ to publish in them, but this journal ‘only’ charges $60 (plus $20 if you require a certificate). This may seem a bargain to some, but authors are being ripped off even at this low price.
There are many other problems with the journal, not least that the quality of articles published in it would embarrass any high school student, let alone an academic. However, while the desire and ease of publishing in such journals persists, Cabells will have to increase its Journal Blacklist by many more thousands to keep pace with demand.
Simon Linacre is the Director of International Marketing & Development at Cabells, where he focuses on growing international markets and product development. He is passionate about helping authors get published and has delivered over a hundred talks, sharing useful publication tips for researchers.
8 thoughts on “Growth of predatory publishing shows no sign of slowing”
When you say the quality of the articles do you mean the quality of the English or of the science reported?
Both – the standard of English is often very poor with no evidence of any copy editing, while the topics are facile and uninteresting academically, with the articles very short.
I am not familiar with facile as a descriptor of research. Perhaps you could elaborate. And I would think that scientific interest was more important than academic interest. But in either case surely you are not claiming to know what everyone in the world is interested in. Narrow results can have broad implications for someone else.
If I get a chance I will look for myself.
By facile I mean simplistic or unsophisticated – neither are compatible with quality research. And I would use scientific interest and academic interest interchangeably here. Journal editors have claimed to know what their audience should be interested in for hundreds of years – that’s part of their job. ‘All the knowledge that’s fit to print’, to borrow a phrase. Authors expect this, as well as a measure of curation, development and improvement of their work – you don’t get this for the $60 quoted in the example or use, or in the thousands of other journals on the Blacklist that usually charge a lot more.
Several of the articles in the latest issue look to have students as the lead authors, so unsophistication is not surprising. But I do not see sophistication as relevant. Interestingly, the errors in one suggest it is a machine translation.
As for interest, I found several of the articles interesting, especially the ones on virtual gueueing. In the January issue there is a taxonomy of Facebook revenue streams that is so good I am sending it around.
My view is that journals are just that — places where people can publish their research results. Others seem to want a higher role. My simple view is that all new information and ideas should be published. My concern is that concern over business models may inhibit the diffusion of useful knowledge.
I understand where you are coming from, that all scientific results should have a place where they can be shared. But those are called repositories – a journal is something more. A ‘higher role’, as you call it. And with that higher role there are higher expectations, such as trusting an article has been peer reviewed, tested for veracity and chosen as being worthy to be published among other research outputs of similar standard. Both repositories can, and do, co-exist. It has less to do with business models or the actual research published than deception, fraud and criminality on behalf of predatory publishers which manifestly fail to deliver on the expectations of authors. This was articulated in the findings of the Federal Trade Commission against Omics and why they fined them over $50m (https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/152-3113/federal-trade-commission-v-omics-group-inc)