Predatory journals: Ban predators from the scientific record

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
534,
Page:
326
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/534326a
Published online

Predatory journals are threatening the credibility of science. By faking or neglecting peer review, they pollute the scholarly record with fringe or junk science and activist research. I suggest that every publishing stakeholder could contribute to reining in these journals.

Universities and colleges should stop using the quantity of published articles as a measure of academic performance. Researchers and respectable journals should not cite articles from predatory journals, and academic library databases should exclude metadata for such publications.

Companies that supply services to publishers, including those that license journal-management software or provide standard identifiers, should decline to work with predatory publishers.

Scholarly databases such as Scopus and Thomson Reuters Web of Science need to raise the bar for acceptance, eliminating journals and publishers that use flawed peer-review practices. The US National Center for Biotechnology Information should do the same for PubMed and PubMed Central.

Finally, advocates of open-access publication must stop pretending that the author-pays model is free of serious, long-term structural problems (see J. Beall Nature 489, 179; 2012). Just because it works well in a few cases doesn't mean it always works.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver, USA.

    • Jeffrey Beall

Corresponding author

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Comments

  1. Report this comment #68211

    Anatole Klyosov said:

    Jeffrey Beall is wrong in his quest on at least two accounts. First, merits of a publication should not be determined in a bureaucratic, dictatorial way. It is determined by the reader. It is the reader's decision whether to read the paper and to cite it or not. Yes, there are many of low quality papers among open access editions, so what? Do not read them and do not cite them, as most of us do not. Second, there are plenty of low quality, misleading, erroneous papers in reputable editions, and the reader again makes a choice to follow them or not. I can present here a number of examples of erroneous data and conclusions in papers published recently in the Nature, so what? Unfortunately, only space limit prevents me to describe and analyze some of those publications.

    Scientific publications do not need more regulations, let the reader makes his or her decision.

    As to the call to stop using the quantity of published articles as a measure of academic performance, I wonder who does it nowadays? Besides, is some unqualified decision-makers continue that practice locally, how can one prevent it? Academic freedom has its positive and negative sides, and we have to live with it.

    Anatole A. Klyosov
    Professor of Biochemistry, retired

  2. Report this comment #68221

    Adriano Aguzzi said:

    I am puzzled by the enthusiasm of science funders and politicians for the author-pays model. Whilst open-access publications are morally attractive, it should have been clear at the outset that linking the publisher's revenues to the number of published articles would lead to predatory practices.

    I can only think of one way to resolve this conflict-of-interest: uncoupling the financials from the published articles. Funding agencies should support consortia that publish open-access research. Readers wouldn't have to pay for subs criptions, and authors wouldn't pay for publication.

    Note that this model is no more expensive to the funding agencies (and potentially cheaper) than any of the current ways of disseminating research. That's what we do at the Swiss Medical Weekly, of which I am the editor-in-chief (www.smw.ch). For an in-depth discussion of these issues, see my editorials on publication policies (http://blog.smw.ch/scientific-publishing-in-the-times-of-open-access) and on authorships (http://blog.smw.ch/authoring-scientific-papers-a-perspective-from-the-trenches).

    Adriano Aguzzi, MD, PhD
    University of Zurich, Switzerland

  3. Report this comment #68223

    Dr. D.P.S. RATHORE said:

    I have read very carefully the comments on the above subject and are worth appreciating. In my opinion,fraud and academic pollution in Govt. Scientific organization is a matter of very serious concern. Immediate steps are required to stop such practices prevailing in prestigious Department of Atomic Energy, India-A big racket and scandal involving superior authorities. Academic fraud is a serious crime.

    Can any Doctorate Degree be awarded based on the Ph.D. thesis publications in symposium or/seminars volumes without the name of Guide? - ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/post/Can_any_Doctorate_Degree_be_awarded_based_on_the_PhD_thesis_publications_in_symposium_or_seminars_volumes_without_the_name_of_Guide [accessed Jun 16, 2016].

  4. Report this comment #68225

    Stevan Harnad said:

    Jeffery Beall is exaggerating, as he often does. The solution is obvious:

    Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

    ABSTRACT: Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access Publishing ("Gold OA") are premature. Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subs cription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA; the asking price for Gold OA is still arbitrarily inflated; and there is concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards. What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors' final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) ("Green OA"). That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subs criptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model. Meanwhile, the subs cription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs. The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a "no-fault basis," with the author's institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.

  5. Report this comment #68241

    Stephen Seligman said:

    Jeffery Beall is not exaggerating in his suggestions that predatory journals need to be inhibited. My email box receives 1-2 requests per day from journals with either no discernable physical address or addresses that can be traced to a notorious publisher of predatory journals. I was surprised to see that even PubMed may list journals of dubious merit. One such journal published seven articles so far this year, all of which had at least one author in common. That's not peer review. In addition to publishing articles, publishers of predatory journals sponsor conferences. These conferences may attract legitimate investigators whose names and institutions are used to attract others. Conferences sponsored by publishers of predatory journals also need to be avoided.

  6. Report this comment #68243

    Stephen Seligman said:

    Jeffery Beall is not exaggerating in his suggestions that predatory journals need to be inhibited. My email box receives 1-2 requests per day from journals with either no discernable physical address or addresses that can be traced to a notorious publisher of predatory journals. I was surprised to see that even PubMed may list journals of dubious merit. One such journal published seven articles so far this year, all of which had at least one author in common. That's not peer review. In addition to publishing articles, publishers of predatory journals sponsor conferences. These conferences may attract legitimate investigators whose names and institutions are used to attract others. Conferences sponsored by publishers of predatory journals also need to be avoided.

  7. Report this comment #68275

    Vadim A. Markel said:

    Regarding the proposal of Stevan Harnad to charge authors fees per each round of review regardless of outcome:

    1. It will create author inequality based on the ability to pay (authors with a lot of grant money or from rich institutions will have unfair advantage).
    2. It will promote false authorship (as all author fees do).
    3. Most papers will go through 14 rounds of review and not ever get published (because publishing papers is not rewarded in this model – why bother).
    4. It will promote shallow and hasty reviews.

    Regarding the comment of Anatole Klyosov that there are many low-quality papers in reputable journals including Nature, etc., and that everything should be published and it is up to the reader to judge the quality:

    1. If the latter statement is true, why do we need journals at all? Just place your papers on your personal web page and be done with it.
    2. The statement that it's up to the readers to judge the quality actually contradicts the OA publication model. In OA publishing, everyone is paying for publications (through taxes), even those who do not intend to use OA to read papers. The reader has no choice which publisher or journal to support monetarily. In the subs cription model, the reader is the end user and can choose which journals or publishers to support.
    3. If every produced paper can be published OA and the society as a whole pays the fee but the authors (on average) are not responsible, the total cost to the society will increase dramatically because most authors are vane and want to publish as many papers as possible.
    4. As for the claim that traditional journals also publish low quality papers, it is true but irrelevant. Low quality papers (as low quality cheese or low quality cars) will always exist. The goal of a certain publication model is to encourage publication of good papers and to discourage publication of bad papers. Subs cription model does exactly that (because the reader is the end user who pays), although it can not be always successful. The OA model does the opposite.

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