Predatory journals are academic journals that fail to uphold expected best practices. For example, they may not conduct peer reviews or index their articles. Working with a team of international stakeholders, we established a formal consensus definition for ‘predatory journal’.
“Predatory journals & publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”
Here we summarized all the characteristics of predatory journals from the literature
In three rounds of the survey, experts voted on whether they thought the characteristics we found from the literature were key features of predatory journals
A consensus definition was established and a plan of action to address predatory journals was formed. This plan included the need to develop a ‘one stop shop’ of resources on predatory journals. This website aims to meet this need.
The definition of predatory journals/publishers is presently being operationalized to be able to support direct assessments about a given journal’s transparency practices. A key challenge with predatory journals is that sometimes the distinction between predatory journals and legitimate journals is not clear cut. There are a number of factors that contribute to the challenge of distinguishing predatory and legitimate journals.
The terms ‘predatory’ implies that researchers are ‘prey’ to these journals. While there are certainly many instances of researchers falling prey and inadvertently submitting to predatory journals they thought were legitimate, there are other cases where researchers knowingly submit to these outlets. Researchers face a pressure to publish – the number of academic articles published is often used as a currency for success. Predatory journals exist in part because there is an exploitable market that is willing to support them.
This suggests that the term ‘predatory’ may not reflect the broad realities of how predatory journals function or how the community interacts with them. We none-the-less use the term here since it has had a broad uptake in the community.
We are working to develop a digital journal authenticator tool which ‘checks’ how transparently a journal operates. The aim of the tool is to provide users with information about a journal to help them decide if they should interact with it (e.g., read, submit, cite).