University of South Alabama

Scholarly Activity

Predatory Publishers Will Take Your Article…and Your Dollar

With the explosion of open-access publishing sites over the last decade, opportunists have taken advantage of the desire (and sometimes obligation) for publishing, creating a market for “peer-reviewed” journals which publish articles for a fee. This has been covered in the journals Nature (here and here) and The Chronicle of Higher Education (here) as well as in the New York Times (here). Professor Jeffery Beall began exploring this issue in 2008 and was interviewed by the blog The Scholarly Kitchen (here, 15 min. audio only). Prof. Beall states:

"Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various levels of deception and lack of transparency in their operations.  For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists."

Buyer Beware

With the impetus to produce scholarly activity, what is an author to do? Ask yourself…

  • Does the journal/publisher provide verifiable contact information, including physical address? If they only exist on the Internet, beware!!
  • Is the journal/publisher’s policy for author fees readily available? Don’t get sucker punched.
  • Is first contact made via e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members? Are the journal/publisher’s calls for abstracts or papers distributed through standard means such as announcements through reputable professional societies and meetings?
  • Are the members of the editorial board or past authors reputable in their field? What do they have to say about the journal/publisher? Consider contacting them directly for their opinion.
  • Is the journal/publisher’s peer-review process is clearly defined and verifiable?
  • Do the journal/publisher’s published article meet standards for scholarly activity?
  • Is the journal/publisher a member of an industry association, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, which attempt to verify their members’ reputations? But just because they are listed with such an association does not mean that they adhere to the highest standards. Proceed with caution and consider the above suggestions.
  • What do our librarians know about this journal/publisher? Contact the Biomedical Library!

USA Resources

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USA Online (eCampus, Sakai)

USA Online contains the project site "The Basics of Research", which includes 13 short articles on writing papers for submission. Also, Basics includes a tutorial for "Assessment of Literature" as well as articles on "A Systematic Guide to Reviewing a Manuscript" and "Simple Method for Evaluating the Clinical Literature". These three resources are helpful in resident and faculty education related to journal clubs. For access to these resources, contact Dr. Joyce Guest.

Web Resources

ACGME Metrics for Scholarly Activity

Beall’s List

Directory of Open Access Journals

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association


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