Predatory publishing doesn’t just take advantage of authors by misrepresenting review, editorial, and fee structures. It also hinders access to the work itself, hurting the overall enterprise of research. The epidemic of predatory journals reached serious enough heights in 2016 that the Federal Trade Commission charged OMICS, one such publisher of hundreds of predatory journals, for its deceptive practices.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Janice Dysart, Science Librarian and creator of the Where to Publish Your Research guide. “Be wary of these email solicitations from publishers trying to get you to submit articles to their journals.” She recommends using the Think Check Submit checklist to determine whether a publisher is legitimate.
Anyone can fall victim to predatory journal publishers. Jung Ha-Brookshire, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, and Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Textile and Apparel Management, relates her experience after a graduate student recommended a journal a few years ago. She says, “I didn’t think twice about it. We submitted our paper and got accepted without any revisions. Then they were asking us to send money somewhere in Pakistan.” She still didn’t realize what was happening because she hadn’t even heard of “predatory journals.”
That all changed about a year later when she learned of a list of predatory journals from her colleagues. “We found out that our journal was on that list,” she says. They tried to withdraw their work from the publication but couldn’t. Because the journal wasn’t legitimate, the article could only be found via the specific URL and not by searching, so they pulled the publication information from their CVs. Jung says, “We had to take that manuscript as a loss because we couldn’t even take that paper to other publishers since, technically, it is already published.”
After that experience, Jung now checks with her subject librarian, Noël Kopriva, every time she encounters a journal she hasn’t heard of, “no matter how good the website looks.” Jung advises, “Be careful with choosing the right journals. Do not get fooled by address, location, a beautiful website, and a wonderful set of editorial board names. Check with your librarian first when in doubt!”