Avoiding submission to a fake journal

An article recently published in Science Magazine adds another aspect to the list of factors to be considered when selecting the target journal for your precious manuscript. The article “How to hijack a journal” by John Bohannon outlines the latest scam to hit the scientific publishing field. Bohannon explains how fraudsters have now progressed from building copycat websites with minor differences in the website address, to “snatching entire Web addresses, known as Internet domains, right out from under academic publishers, erecting fake versions of their sites, and hijacking their journals, along with their Web traffic.” Unsuspecting authors could log in, submit, and even pay the article processing fees without any realization. Bohannon explains that so far, journals hit “are careless about website administration and security”, and the article provides a list of 24 hijacked journal domains some of which are even indexed in Thomas Reuters’ Web of Science. Out of these 24 hijacked domains, Bohannon identified 2 sites that are still operating as fake journals. If the authenticity of a site is suspicious, Bohannon’s article includes suggestions from Mehdi Dadkhah, an information technology scientist based in Iran who first wrote to Bohannon about this issue, on how to spot a hijacked journal. This involves checking the online domain registration data, the country of registration, and the availability of contact information.

One resource that an author may wish to consider before submission to a journal is Jeffrey Beall’s list of “Potential, possible, or probably predatory scholarly open-access publishers” or “Beall’s list”, last updated on November 18, 2015. This list should be used as a resource only, and authors are still advised to carryout due diligence in looking closely at any journal that is currently included on this list. Beall has also published a freely accessible paper outlining “Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers”. In addition to Beall’s list, authors may also consult the Directory of Open Access Journals, a website that lists open access journals that have met certain criteria, and check to see whether the journal is indexed in PubMed Central, and/or Web of Science.

Fake scientific publishers continue to thrive because of the multimillion-dollar business that open access publishing has created. These fake open access journals are created to make money, nothing else. They charge considerable fees, have rapid processing turnaround times, publish large volumes of content, carryout little, or, most often, no peer-review, and even promise indexing by dubious sounding international indexing agencies. They do, however, offer a very attractive solution to naive authors desperate to publish.

Do you have an experience with a “predatory” journal that you would like to share, or any tips on how to assess the credibility of a journal? Please use the comments function below to offer any words of advice.

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