How Predatory Journals promotes pseudoscience

Let’s understand a few fundamental things first for anyone new to the research publication methods before we discuss Predatory Journals (or Fake Journals).

There are broadly two types of scholarly journals: academic and professional journals

An Academic Journal is a scholarly journal which publishes articles and serves as a medium for the introduction and presentation for scrutiny of new research, and the critique of existing research. Publication in academic journals requires a Peer-Review which is the independent assessment of the research paper by experts in that field. Its purpose is to evaluate the manuscript’s quality and suitability for publication.

A Professional Journal is a scholarly journal addressed to a particular professional audience such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, accountants etc. and published by a professional organisation. They may contain research articles, reports, and practical articles applicable to the profession.

As opposed to articles in professional journals, scholarly articles in the academic journal are lengthy, original research or in-depth analysis of a topic, written in the specialized language of the discipline.

Scholarly journals are published in two forms:

Open Access Journals refers to the practice of making peer-reviewed scholarly research and literature freely available online to anyone interested in reading it. Authors have to pay to Publish.

Traditional Journals can be online and offline publishing. In general, subscribers of Traditional Journals pay to access the publications and authors/researchers usually don’t have to pay to publish their research work. Traditional journals are usually well-established and considered a creditable source of scholarly publications. Scientific or learned societies normally have Traditional Journals and to be accepted as a member and/or author of these societies one need to possess defined eligibility criteria.

What is a Predatory Journal or Fake Journals?

In today’s online world there are tons of Open Access Journals available and it has spawned a darker side of unethical practices. Predatory Journal or a deceptive publishing or simply a Fake Journal refers to the exploitive academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without checking articles for quality and legitimacy and without providing the other editorial and publishing services that legitimate academic journals provide. Predatory publishing – Wikipedia

Predatory Open Access Journals tend to have very short processing periods, as their main strategy is to collect the authors’ money for whatever they send to the journal. They will either not organise the review process at all or will make it very simple, as they earn on accepting papers.

In a recent study of 1907 papers from 200 likely predatory journals, the largest number of papers (27%) came from India. Among developed countries, the US produced 15% and Japan just 4%.

In April 2019, the predatory publisher OMICS Group was fined USD50 million for deceptive business practices including falsely claiming peer review, listing scientists as journal editors without their knowledge, using fake impact factors and unauthorised use of logos implying that journals were indexed in the US National Library of Medicine PubMedCentral and Medline.

How to identify a Predatory Journal?

It is not difficult. Once you are aware that Predatory Journals exist you can spot them quickly.

Beall’s List was a prominent database of predatory open-access publishers that was maintained by University of Colorado librarian Jeffrey Beall on his blog Scholarly Open Access. In the wake of legal threats from the Predatory Publishing lobby and expensive lawsuit, in 2017 the entire content of Beall’s Scholarly Open Access website was removed. However, the archived version of the Beall’s List is still available on various platforms. Here are some links:

Some other resources to help spot Predatory Journals:

Who publishes in Predatory Journals? Why wary of Predatory Journals?

Authors who publish in Predatory Journals falls into two categories: the unethical and the uninformed.

The unethical pretentious-researchers deliberately take advantage of the Predatory Journals to improve their credibility among the less informed academia, industry, and the public and mislead to gain trust in their work. They also make reference to the phoney Journals to market their untested methods, claims or products and make their claims appear legit to unsuspecting people.

The uninformed academics often fall prey to the pseudoscientific Predatory Journals who are unaware of the fraudulent practices of such entities, or desperate and delusional academics unaware that publishing in such journals will damage their reputation.

If you are a genuine researcher you must be cautious of publishing in the Predatory Journals. It will seriously affect your credibility, legitimacy of your research and future prospects.

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