“Predatory” journals defrauding university scholars

Written by Jon Ritterbush, E-Resources and Serials Librarian

Open-access journals are expanding access to scholarly content across many disciplines, at a time when publishers of subscription-based journals are increasing prices an average of 5.6 percent in 2012.  While open-access journals are “free” to read, some publishers are adopting an “author-pays” model, where those contributing articles for peer review and publication are required to pay fees.

Aside from potential conflicts of interest, the author-pays model has also enticed some lesser-known publishers to engage in “predatory” practices for the sake of profits rather than scholarship.   These publishers may charge exorbitant fees to authors or institutions, make false claims about their editorial board membership or impact factors, and disregard minimal standards for peer review or preservation.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has featured this issue of predatory journals in its March 9, 2012 issue and in a June 2012 blog posting.   Both of these Chronicle stories touched upon the efforts of Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at UC-Denver, who has published an online list of what he considers predatory open-access publishers.   Beall has also published a list of the criteria he uses to determine whether a publisher might be considered predatory.   Misspellings and grammatical errors on the publishers’ website are one potential giveaway.   Steep publishing fees or promises of rapid reviews and/or publication may also serve as warning signs.

UNK students or faculty who are considering submitting an article to an author-pays publisher, are encouraged to contact their department’s liaison librarian to assist in vetting that publisher.  A list of subject liaison librarians is posted at: http://guides.library.unk.edu/libraryliaisons.

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