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Beware of Predatory Journals

Learn how to discern reputable journals from deceptive ones, ensuring your research reaches the right audience

“We publish your paper in 5 days.” Another interesting one, “Explore your research knowledge” and most common, “Special Issue invitation”. The mails are generally well-written often with images, journal ISSN number and sometimes with editorial board details (sometimes concocted). Sometimes the mail would also refer to your latest article that been published mentioning it as promising that really impressed the editor of the journal. You could also get a mail if your abstract got accepted in a conference or you presented your results in some conference. And, they would ask you to submit the article within next 15 to 20 days as the upcoming issue is due for release. There is one thing that is common about these journals in majority of the cases-Open Access and Online; though the fee that they charge might not be very high. Most of these journals are newly established and looking for prospective clients (aka authors). So, we call these journals as “Predatory Journals”

There has been a surge in the number of journals and publishing houses in the last 5 years. The advent of internet, open access option and online (most of them do not have a print option) platform has given these journals a survival and thriving advantage. They could also mislead you with their so called high impact factor (mostly mentioned with asterisk that would say “Unofficial impact factor” calculated based on last year or last two years). Recognising these predatory journals and publishing houses is important to protect your interest and science/medicine at large.

There are some pointers that could help you recognise these journals:

  1. To start with, you would notice that the name of the journal resembles or is close to the name of some reputed journal.
  2. Most of these journals will boast about their speedy publication process. They might even lure you with an optional “fast-track” publication service for an extra fee.
  3. The journal would mostly be multi-disciplinary, i.e., would have vast inclusion criteria for accommodating maximum number of articles.
  4. The mail might come from free mail services like gmail, yahoo etc., though this might not always be the case. It is very easy and cheap to get a domain name least/) and email services these days.
  5. Next, you look in to the website and see excessive advertisements and sometimes advertisements not even related to the field of journal.
  6. You might notice that the journal is indexed in databases that you have not  heard of. Remember Google Scholar is not a journal indexing service. Google Scholar picks up everything that is uploaded in the internet.
  7. To attract authors from the developing countries, they might state that they are based in Europe or USA and might even have a PO box address in these locations.
  8. The “contact us” page might only give a form for you to fill without their own actual details.
  9. When you start submitting, you notice that the author guidelines are either not given, are not very rigid or copied from some other reputed journal.
  10. They might not have an online system of submission. In most of the cases, they would ask you to mail the article directly to the editor for a speedier publication.
  11. They might have an open access policy page but the licensing information is equivocal.
  12. Once you submit, you might notice that your article is accepted with minimal comments and specific reviewer comments are not provided.
  13. They might ask you to deposit publication fee and not provide you with a legitimate invoice.
  14. When ready for publication, these journals might not provide copyediting or proof reading services.
  • To be aware of these journals is the best option.
  • You should be suspicious if you get repeated mails from such journals.

Following tips would help you to make a better decision about your article:

1. Committee of publication ethics (COPE) has well defined policies for journal publishers and has also defined principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publication that provide a framework for analysing open-access journals and publishers. A fair knowledge of COPE guidelines would make you better equipped.

2. To know about the journal, one of the best option is to search the journal in NLM Catalogue. This gives the history of the journal and details like whether it is indexed in PubMed wholly or partially. To be available in PubMed, a journal should be indexed in Medline. It is important to note that it is mandatory to include the studies/articles in PubMed that have got NIH grant. In such cases, the journal uses PubMed as indexing database and mentions “selected citations only”. Select the right journal for your article because it is important that your article reaches your target audience. So, be aware and save your article from these “Predatory journals”.

Written by:
Dr. Shivali Arora

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