Beware of predatory journals

Predatory journals engage to some degree in deception, e.g. lack of rigorous peer review despite claims, identification of prominent scholars on bogus editorial boards, false claims of database indexing, fake impact factors, or phishing schemes masquerading as invitations to publish.  

Predatory journals flourish in the “publish or perish” culture of scholarly research. They accept fees to publish articles from authors often at lower rates than legitimate publishers’ rates. Researchers thereby scale a very low bar for acceptance of their manuscripts but, wittingly or unwittingly, contribute to bad science and risk tarnished professional reputations, while research money is lost to scurrilous companies.  

One example of these entities is OMICS Group Inc., which now owes the US Federal Trade Commission $50 million because “they made deceptive claims to academics and researchers about the nature of their conferences and publications, and hid steep publication fees.”¹

Identifying predatory journals is not easy. Their titles are often purposefully similar to reputable journals. Also, reputable journals may be purchased by disreputable publishers and are switched to a predatory business approach. Unfortunately, there is no perfect “whitelist” or “blacklist” of reputable journals. Physicians should be diligent and skeptical when reading articles and consider these few tips:

  1. Search for clinical literature in databases and directories that have standards for journal inclusion such as MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL (nursing and allied health), PsycINFO (psychiatry and psychology), the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (all available through the College library), and DOAJ (a free journal directory).

  2. Use resources from academic libraries such as UBC library’s webpage on predatory journals.

  3. Use the checklist at Think. Check. Submit.

The College library has removed over 4,000 unsolicited titles “donated” to its collection by an e-journal vendor in an effort to curate a more relevant and valid supply of journals for registrants to access. The College library will always locate any article that a registrant requests but will try to be increasingly rigorous in the titles that are selected for its online holdings.

Contact the library for other online resources and queries.

References:

  1. Court Rules in FTC’s Favor Against Predatory Academic Publisher OMICS Group; Imposes $50.1 Million Judgment against Defendants That Made False Claims and Hid Publishing Fees. Federal Trade Commission (US). Washington, DC. 2019 Apr 3. Available from: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/04/court-rules-ftcs-favor-against-predatory-academic-publisher-omics.