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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

The peer review process

Review Process

The peer review process is a cornerstone in validating scientific work. All legitimate academic journals peer review manuscripts before publication. The peer review process does not differ between traditional subscription journals and open access journals.The system of peer review exists to guarantee that published articles are based on scientific methods and facts rather than speculation or opinions, and that the research behind them has been done with proper rigor. The review process allows researchers to build on existing work and ensure the quality of the research being done.

Traditional peer review has not changed much since the publication of the first academic journal. It can be blind (where the authors don’t know who the reviewers are) or double blind (where both authors and reviewers are anonymous to some extent). There are some new versions of peer review out there. The journal Peer J has experimented with open peer review, where everyone can see all comments made from the first round through the accepted version. You can find an example of this here.

Peer review in predatory journals

Predatory journals claim to have peer review. Unlike with reliable journals, it can be difficult to find any description of what this supposed peer review entails. There are many examples of predatory journals that simply publish all manuscripts sent to them as-is. One infamous example is the “article” Get Me Off Your F***ing Mailing List.

The peer review that predatory journals claim to do is very fast, taking only days or weeks. It is sometimes hard to tell, as some predatory journals don’t publish the date manuscripts were received and then accepted. As the short review times are a known red flag, some predatory journals are now starting to prolong the “review” time to seem more legitimate, but they are still rarely as long as those of legitimate journals.[1].

What kind of articles end up in predatory journals?

Why do academics chose to publish in predatory journals? There are indications that there is a correlation between having an article rejected by one or more high quality journals and publishing that same article in a predatory journal. Dejected academics might not be up to their normal due diligence, and unknowingly get taken in by predatory journals In their research Nicoll and Chinn, 2015[2], Oermann et al., 2016[3] found that academics whose research had been rejected by the journals they wanted to publish in, or who had been told they needed to make major revisions before acceptance, were more keen to simply get their articles published and done than in reworking them.