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Informed Publishing: Identifying Deceptive or Predatory Publishers


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What are deceptive or predatory publishers, and why is it important to scholarly or academic publishing? This presentation provides a definition, describes characteristics of these publications, and how they can be identified.

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Informed Publishing: Identifying Deceptive or Predatory Publishers

  1. 1. Informed Publishing: Identifying Deceptive or Predatory Publishers Scholarly Communication Services (SCS) By Kristy Padron, MLIS SCS Coordinator and Associate University Librarian 2020 **Original Content by J. Strudwick & K. Padron, 2018, updated by K. Padron in 2020.
  2. 2. Objectives • Describe the background of the traditional business model in scholarly publishing and influences that facilitated deceptive or predatory publishing. • Outline the connection between Open Access (OA) and deceptive publishers. • Distinguish characteristics of a deceptive publication. • Identify ways to evaluate a publication’s credibility.
  3. 3. Scholarly Publishing Business Models: Influences & Open Access
  4. 4. Scholarly and some creative works are communicated through the scholarly publishing industry. The Background: Scholarly Publishing Business Models Images Credit: Permission by CC0.
  5. 5. Scholarly Publishing Business Model: • Authors contribute content and usually transfer copyright to publisher (e.g., Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, Sage). • Publisher has control over the use and distribution of work. • Publishers provide services such as peer review management, copy editing, web hosting, marketing, and distribution. • Libraries license content from publishers and provide access to their users (funded by university allocations via taxes and tuition). The Background: Scholarly Publishing Business Models Images Credit: Permission by CC0.
  6. 6. The Serials Crisis • Since the 1980s, the cost of academic journal subscriptions has outpaced library budgets. • Specializations in research increased, and new (and additional) publications were created. • Libraries spend up to 75% of their budgets on journals and “Big Deal” packages offered by major scholarly publishers (DeltaThink, 2020). • Libraries have seen decreased allocations from their universities (-50%) over the past 20 years (Association of Research Libraries, 2019). The Background: Scholarly Publishing Business Models Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  7. 7. • Open Access (OA) allows users free, unrestricted online access to journal and other types of content (SPARC, n.d.) • Technology allows for easier and faster creation and delivery of information. • Author(s) can retain their copyright and provide Creative Commons permissions (depending on publisher). • Subscriptions or access through organizational affiliations are generally not required for access to OA publications. Open Access (OA) Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Permission by CC0.
  8. 8. Alternative ways of paying for publication costs: • Author Processing Charges (APCs): authors/ institutions/ funders pay for publishing fees • 70% of journals of the 10, 893 indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) do not charge an APC Legitimate OA publications do the following: • Maintain quality controls, such as peer review. • Include policies for its various processes (retraction, archiving, author rights). • Are frequently affiliated with a scholarly organization or institution. • Follow professional standards from the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) or Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Open Access (OA) Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Permission by CC0.
  9. 9. If a journal or publication is open access, it isn’t automatically a deceptive or predatory publishers, but… …some publishing businesses exploited the shift in publishing business models, “publish or perish” norms, and the online environment, leading to the formation of predatory or deceptive publishing. Open Access (OA) Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons and Permission by CC0.
  10. 10. The Problem with Deceptive or Predatory Publishers
  11. 11. “What makes a journal predatory or deceptive is its business practices… …The issue is not primarily the quality of the content; the issue is whether the journal is lying to its authors, its readers, and the academic community about how it selects content, and therefore whether the certification service it offers to authors (which is one important aspect of its function in the scholcomm system) is fraudulent or legitimate.” --Rick Anderson (2017), Associate Dean for Collections & Scholarly Communication, J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah. Image Credit: The Scholarly Kitchen, n.d. nxty/ Deceptive / Predatory Publishers Defined
  12. 12. Description: a publishing venue that exploits the academic, scholarly need to publish. • Primary goal: profits • Engages in questionable to unethical business practices (soliciting authors and journal staff) • Questionable quality control (peer review, acceptance). • Lax compliance or does not follow publication industry standards. *Deceptive publishers is the more accepted term due to its description. Deceptive / Predatory Publishers Defined Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  13. 13. Figure 2. Growth in Predatory Publishers and Journals (Huffman, 2017, p. 262). The Reach of Deceptive Publishers
  14. 14. Figure 1. Standalone journals, subject area distribution (Huffman, 2017, p. 258). The Reach of Predatory Publishers
  15. 15. Integrity: the potential for faulty information to be published, distributed, or reused (Hampson, 2018). • Scientific premise • Scientific rigor • Reproducibility • Diminshed trust in research and academia. Misuse of Scholarly Resources • Research funds are used to fund publishers with false credentials. • Research and scholarly activity is time intensive, deserving of a credible venue for its dissemination. Why This Matters Image Credit: K. Padron, 2018
  16. 16. Reputation • Reputations are built on the quality of research/ creative output and where they are published, not simply by quantity. • Publishing in a predatory journal may be seen as using lazy or poor professional judgement. • May be detrimental for early-career researchers. Preservation and Archiving • Will the publication or article remain available online or through other sources? Why This Matters Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  17. 17. Characteristics of Deceptive or Predatory Publications
  18. 18. • Pseudo-Scholarly: pretends to provide editorial and review services (Anderson, 2018). • Most deceptive publications fall in this categroy. • False-Flag (or Hijacked): appear to be a legitimate and established journal; similar name or slight name variance). • Wants APC early in the submission. • Masqueraders: adopts titles that are seemingly affiliated with a reputable organization (or one that does not exist but sounds good). • Phony Journals: also known as “sponsored journals” which are underwritten by a company or organization to support a product or agenda. • These tend to be rare. Categories of Deceptive Publishers Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  19. 19.  Scope & Attributes: • Includes unrelated subjects alongside legitimate topics. • Inaccurate claims of where it is indexed (Scopus, Web of Science). • Fabricated bibliometrics (Journal Impact Factor or CiteScore)  Appearance: • Unprofessional or outdated appearance. • Website contains spelling and grammar errors. • Images or logos are distorted or misrepresented. • Website targets authors, not readers.  Publication Process: • Rapid acceptance, peer review and publication. • Unclear description of manuscript submittal processes • Little to no information about peer review process. • Author Processing Charge (APC) asked for early in manuscript submission or before acceptance. Typical Characteristics Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  20. 20.  Ambiguous policies: • Preservation and archiving not known. • Copyright issues: • Unclear or no copyright policy • Claim to be Open Access while the publication retains copyright • No article retraction policy.  Undetermined memberships and staff: • Unclear or misprepresented affiliation with professional organizations or societies. • Incomplete information on board of editors… • …or falsely listed editors. • E-mail is usually general (e.g., • May be operated through a registered agent; actual location of business and staff cannot be readily determined. Typical Characteristics Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  21. 21. Identify Legitimate Open Access and Traditional Journals
  22. 22. “Official” lists of deceptive publishers are not available. Compare PLos One with Open Access Journal of Science • ‘About’ page: • Organizational sponsorship • Editorial board • Indexing and abstracting sources • Impact factor • ‘Browse Issues’ (check consistency of publication and contact) • Contact information  Explore a journal’s attributes and its home page.
  23. 23. Image Source: Public Library of Science (PLoS One),
  24. 24. Image Source: Open Access Journal of Science, by MedCrave.
  25. 25. • ThinkCheckSubmit.Org • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) • zetoc (British Library): • JournalGuide.Com  Check with Publishing Organizations or Their Directories of Publications
  26. 26. • UlrichsWeb (available through FAU Libraries) • Start year of publication • Refereed • Abstracting and indexing (including JCR indexing) • ISSN • Status (active or cease publication) • Content type (audience or intent of publication) • Lists by established, credible publishing and academic organizations (e.g., Cabells).  Look at Other Information Sources for Periodicals Image Source: UlrichsWeb, by FAU Libraries. PLoS One Information in UlrichsWeb.
  27. 27.  They may be a legitimate publication but not well-sourced or staffed.  It may be an OA publication that hasn’t been around long enough to be indexed (a minimum of 3 years of data is typically needed). • Many of these are not indexed in Scopus or Web of Science. Is this a predatory publication, or…? Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  28. 28.  It may be a publisher in an emerging research nation with fewer resources. • Their primary audience is scholars in those regions who may not be able to publish in western Europe/ North American publications (or afford access to them). • May not have the intention to be deceptive but just not as well- sourced. • Not indexed though WOS has Emerging Sources Citation Index which includes some of these titles. Is this a predatory publication, or…? Image Credit: Permission by CC0.
  29. 29. More Information Image Credit: Permission by CC0.  Deceptive or Predatory Publishers LibGuide predatory  Scholarly Communication Services Home
  30. 30. Anderson, R (2017, March 25). RE: One more indicator of predation (is this journal predatory? [E-mail]. The Open Scholarship Initiative ListServ,!forum/osi2016-25 _____ (2018, March 19). OSI brief: Deceptive publishing [Blog post]. The Open Science Initiative, Association of Research Libraries (2018). Library Expenditures as a Percent of University Expenditures, 1982-2017. Library-Expenditures.pdf DeltaThink.Org (2020, May 3). Library spending and the serials crisis [Blog post]. Hampson, G. (2018, June 29). Deceptive publishing: Summarizing the OSI conversation [Blog post]. The Open Science Initiative, publishing-summarizing-the-osi-conversation/ Huffman, J. (2017). Publisher package and Open Access journals: Are any of them predatory? The Serials Librarian, 73:3-4, 248-268. DOI: 10.1080/0361526X.2017.1389796 SPARC (n.d.). Open access [Web page]. Works Cited
  31. 31. Informed Publishing: Identifying Deceptive or Predatory Publishers Scholarly Communication Services (SCS) By Kristy Padron, MLIS SCS Coordinator and Associate University Librarian 2020 **Original Content by J. Strudwick & K. Padron, 2018, updated by K. Padron in 2020.