The surge in open-access predatory journals is making it harder for contributors and readers to distinguish these from legitimate publications — a confusion that is fostered by the predatory-journal industry. One solution could be to deploy a variant of a well-established quality-control test.
The scientific community could submit replicate test articles several times a year to a wide array of open-access journals, suspect and non-suspect. These manuscripts would use the organization and language of legitimate science but would be readily identifiable as nonsense to someone in the field. The process should be undertaken by an independent group, perhaps under the auspices and oversight of the Directory of Open Access Journals or the US National Library of Medicine.
The results could then be made public to form the basis of a ‘journal integrity index’. This would avoid labelling journals as predatory and reduce the risk of legal retribution.
Such an objective assessment of legitimate editorial practice, which is currently almost impossible to verify, could help to eliminate the scourge of fake journals that is threatening the scientific enterprise.
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