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Recognizing Predatory Journals and Conferences

A guide to educate JWU faculty, students and staff about journals and conferences that employ deceptive practices for unmerited financial or reputational gain. Originally created by Pieta Eklund, and reproduced / edited with permission

Assessing article quality

Quatlity of Published Articles

A good way of judging if a journal that is new to you is predatory or not is to go through some of the articles in it. By looking at previously published papers you can see if they hold a high enough standard. The dubious peer review common with predatory journals means they publish everything they get without reviews and improvements. This is usually obvious when you look at what they end up publishing.


Inadequate quality: from typos to serious problems

There have been some studies of the quality in journals that are considered to be predatory. One of these studies looked at nursing in particular. The study found that most articles follow the IMRAD structure, but that the content was lacking. A good 50% of the articles in these so called nursing journals were found to be irrelevant for nurses. The content also suffered from poor grammar and typos. According to the study authors this should be a first warning sign that a journal is of subpar quality (Oermann et al., 2018)[1] .

The same study found problems even with those articles that seemed to be of decent quality. A close reading of these showed problems with the papers that should have been addressed as part of the peer review process (Oermann et al., 2018). But predatory journals are infamous for their lacking peer review, and with the fast turnaround times they promise it’s understandable that any review done would have to happen on a demanding deadline.

In conclusion, a superficial check of the basic structure (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) of articles is not enough to judge the quality of an article.

Short articles

The quality of some articles in predatory journals can be good. But frequently you will find them lacking. Compared with articles published in reputable journals they tend to be short, with brief reference sections. Short articles aren’t necessarily bad, but taken together with other factors it could be a sign that you are looking at a low-quality journal.

The consequences of poor quality

The problem with poor research being published is that it affects the collected literature within an entire scientific field, including related professions. In their research Oermann et al. (2018) showed that the predatory nursing journals had published results that could potentially be dangerous to patients if used in practice. There are also examples of research that could be valuable in theory, but that cannot be used because of the kind of mistakes that should have been fixed in peer review.