Predatory publishers

Written by Ruud van den Heuvel, information specialist at the Radboud University Nijmegen.

Sharing your scientific results with the world is key to the progress of your discipline and your career. For scientists there are many options when it comes to publishing their work. 
Within each scientific field a large collection of different journals can be selected for publication. Although the options seem many, not all publishers and journals offer the same quality and services. Before open access, academia was already scrutinizing the publishing industry due to its skewed business model (Beverungen, Bohm, & Land, 2012; Buranyi, 2017) and control over publicly-funded research (Pirie, 2009). 

With the advancement of open access however, a new problem has risen. Under the new author-pays model of open access, publishers ask authors for an article processing charge (APC) when submitting papers. Some ‘publishers’ and journals have attempted to exploit this model by charging large fees to authors without providing the proper editorial and publishing services associated with more established and legitimate journals. Publishers lack transparency and use deceptive websites and emails to attract manuscript submissions and the accompanying author fees (Beall, 2013). 

Publishing your work in an untrustworthy journal has the potential to damage your career. As part of your academic skill set it is therefore necessary to develop a sense of scholarly publishing literacy. Several resources exist online (VSNU, 2018) that allow you to qualitatively assess the different publisher and journals options available to you. This can assist you in making the right decision where to publish your paper in open access.