The term "predatory publishing" was invented in 2010 by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian and researcher at the University of Colorado. It refers to the questionable practice of charging fees to authors to publish their articles without the standard editorial and peer review services provided by legitimate scholarly journals, though often with the pretense that there is. Predatory publishing is distinct from low-quality publishers, who may not have high standards or provide quality editorial, but are not actively seeking to deceive researchers.
In 2019, a group of scholars and researchers form across 10 countries met to develop a consensus definition of a "predatory publisher" and the following definition was agreed on:
“Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”
Grudniewicz et al. (2019, December 11). Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature 576, 210-212. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-03759-y
How this affects researchers
Many academic researchers, particularly those that are early-career, feel pressured to publish. It often up to the author to determine which publishers are legitimate. As of 2014, there were approximately 28,100 active peer-reviewed journals (Boon 2017) and the number only continues upward. Knowing what to watch out for when evaluating publishers can help you sort through the vast number of options and determine the best journal to showcase and protect your research.
Boon, S. (2017, January 7). 21st century science overload [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://blog.cdnsciencepub.com/21st-century-science-overload/
Identifying "good' or "bad" publishers using curated lists is challenging. The lists may be out of date and subject to the biases of those who administer them. The best way to determine if a publisher is legitimate and a good fit for your work is to perform your own individual evaluation.
Think. Check. Submit. is a website that includes a range of tools and practical resources to help researches identify trusted journals, including a checklist for assessing the credentials of a journal or publisher. Think. Check. Attend. is a similar site for evaluating legitimate conferences.
This panel discussion covers topics such as assessing publishers to make sure they will meet your needs, rejecting publishers that won’t, avoiding predatory publishers, and ultimately choosing the right vehicle to disseminate your research. This discussion is ideal for faculty, graduate students, and anyone else interested in academic publishing.