Predatory publishing is the publication of scientific studies in so-called predatory journals. The publishers of the predatory journals claim that their products are scientific journals. In fact, however, the services expected from scientific journals, especially quality control, are not provided. Since these are usually Open Access journals, the author pays for a service that is not provided. It is therefore a business model in which both the author and the reader are deceived. The phenomenon has recently been the subject of public debate, as it appears that there are also dubious scientists who take advantage of this business model to publish studies that have been rejected by reputable journals due to shortcomings and mistakes.
However, as a reputable scientist you would like to publish in a reputable journal. To avoid publishing in a predatory journal, you should therefore be careful about the following signs:
- Predatory publishers frequently use spam emails to solicit the submission of manuscripts, often using non-corporate emails such as Gmail or Yahoo.
- Advertisements are made with unrealistically short peer review times, pointing to the fact that no peer review is taking place.
- The websites of the magazines are often inconsistent; seem to be copied across from other websites. Websites and emails stand out due to typing and printing errors.
- So-called "imitation journals" use the website design and similar sounding names imitating legitimate journals.
- Publication costs and contract terms are not clearly stated on the website.
If you want to publish in a previously unknown journal and are not sure about the seriousness of the journal, you should check the following information:
- Are the editors known in the respective scientific field and have they indicated their work for the journal on their personal homepage? Frequently, predatory journals list well-known scientists as editors without their knowledge and consent.
- Is the journal really listed in the specified databases? Often even a JCR impact factor is given, which is not present at all.
- Is the ISSN number given correct? Some predatory publishers hack the systems of legitimate journals and use their identities. These thus become so-called "hijacked journals".
- Does the publisher belong to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?
- For Open Access journals: Is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) and is the journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
The "Think-Check-Submit" website offers good tips for selecting the appropriate scientific journal in various languages. The ZBMed also provides information on predatory publishing in German and English. Journals suspected of being predatory journals can be found on the "Stop Predatory Journals" list (formerly Beall's list). However, this list should only be used as a first clue, as journals that later turned out to be serious were already listed here. Moreover, such a black list is very difficult to keep up to date because of the flourishing predatory publishing business.