I attended an Office of Scholarly Communication talk today centred around the hot potato of ‘predatory’ publishers. Hosted by the excellent Research Skills co-ordinator, Claire Sewell, she very quickly established that this type of publishing practice can often include:
- An exploitative process
- Direct contact via phishing e-mails
- Charges for services without delivery
- No peer review or editorial process included in costs
- Established vanity publishing practices
- Issues over immoral copyright practices
- The researcher signing away their intellectual property rights
- Withdrawal fees and/or hidden fees
To top things off, the end result of publishing via these services can have a negative impact due to the art of promoting and being published alongside bad research.
This graph, sourced from Jeffrey Beall’s findings, is a good indication as to the growing extent of the problem. Beall is a name that you’ll find inextricably linked to this topic – click here to see why.
Claire highlighted a few of the positive impacts that these types of publisher can have. These include:
- An end product that is published and citeable
- A service to countries where choice is not always an option
Whether these pros makes up for the cons of going through an exploitative process is a hard-sell.
On a personal level, I can see a situation where it once worked. Many moons ago, I was published in a vanity publication which required me to purchase a copy. The end product was a poetry anthology and having agreed and purchased the hard copy I was able to see my work alongside fellow poets. Having it on my bookshelf, it became a bit of a talking point amongst my peers. Pure vanity, I know, but at such a young age it provided me with a welcome boost to my confidence levels.
However, my example was a throwaway project. The kind of research that these operations are targeting are both solo and joint projects; those that require vast sums of investment and that take years to complete. Driving a money-making scheme by exploiting the grey areas of researcher requirements in these circumstances is completely unacceptable. A great example of this is the constant misuse of the Gold Open Access model – an honest concept with one too many holes.
So, some top tips for avoiding the dark art of ‘predatory’ publishing are needed. First, have a look at the awesome website http://thinkchecksubmit.org then consider these things.
- Is the publisher transparent about what services they do and don’t provide?
- Do they broach the issue of copyright?
- Do they offer a peer review process?
- Are there any hidden fees?
- Do they have an editorial board and do they list them?
- What types of association membership do they have?
- Does their website look professional?
- What is the quality of their previous publications? Spelling mistakes? Correct abstract indexing?
Good luck! It’s a dog-eat-dog, fleece-the-little-man world out there. And that’s enough animal references for now.