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Predatory Journals Publishing Trend in India: A Study


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Academic domain is now facing a new threat of unethical publishing called predatory journals. These corrupted journals/publishers misuse the open access (OA) model by demanding huge amount of money as article processing charges (APCs) from authors to publish their articles. Now India has become the hub and one of the top most predatory publishing countries in the world. Many publishing houses have mushroomed in different states of India in which low quality papers are accepted without going through standard peer-reviewing process. In this paper, an attempt is made to analyze the past and present status of predatory journals publishing in India. For this purpose, the study is conducted by including 157 randomly selected fraudulent Indian journals as sample from the Beall’s list of predatory standalone journals and analysed their data based on different parameters such as subject wise predatory publications, misleading journal titles, frequency, format, confusing impact factor/or indexed in the journal, and APCs. It is found that majority of the predatory journals are published in health & medical sciences (25.48%), and pharmaceutical sciences (24.20%). The majority of the predatory journals are available online (62.42%), out of which most of them are monthlies (28.03%), bimonthlies (25.48%), and quarterlies (25.48%) publications. The average APC for an Indian author is INR 1840 and for a foreign author is USD 80.
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Predatory Journals Publishing Trend in India: A Study
Satyabrata Garanayak1 and Chennupati K. Ramaiah2
1Research Scholar, Department of Library and Information Science (DLIS), School of Media
and Communication (SOMAC), Email: and 2Dean, SOMAC &
Professor, DLIS, Email:;, Pondicherry
University, Puducherry- 605014, INDIA
Academic domain is now facing a new threat of unethical publishing called predatory journals.
These corrupted journals/publishers misuse the open access (OA) model by demanding huge
amount of money as article processing charges (APCs) from authors to publish their articles.
Now India has become the hub and one of the top most predatory publishing countries in the
world. Many publishing houses have mushroomed in different states of India in which low
quality papers are accepted without going through standard peer-reviewing process. In this
paper, an attempt is made to analyze the past and present status of predatory journals publishing
in India. For this purpose, the study is conducted by including 157 randomly selected fraudulent
Indian journals as sample from the Beall’s list of predatory standalone journals and analysed
their data based on different parameters such as subject wise predatory publications, misleading
journal titles, frequency, format, confusing impact factor/or indexed in the journal, and APCs.
It is found that majority of the predatory journals are published in health & medical sciences
(25.48%), and pharmaceutical sciences (24.20%). The majority of the predatory journals are
available online (62.42%), out of which most of them are monthlies (28.03%), bimonthlies
(25.48%), and quarterlies (25.48%) publications. The average APC for an Indian author is INR
1840 and for a foreign author is USD 80.
Keywords: Predatory publishing, Open access, Article processing charges, Predatory
publishers, Predatory journals.
Internet and Information Communication Technologies (ICT) have totally changed the
landscape of our everyday life. From ordering a pizza to booking a cab, the way we
communicate with others, ICT has absolutely transformed the human life in many ways. In the
same way, publication cycle of academic research also changed drastically. In the last two
decades, OA publishing has bought about a revolution in the academic scholarly community1.
The three important public statements in this context are (i) the Budapest OA Initiative, Feb.
2002, (ii) the Bethesda Statement on OA Publishing, June 2003, and (iii) the Berlin Declaration
on OA to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, Oct. 2003 were the amongst initiatives
Satyabrata Garanayak
Chennupati K. Ramaiah
Predatory Journals Publishing Trend in India: A Study. University News.
29, 2019.p11
taken on the concept of OA1. The main objective behind these statements is to allow free access
to research articles published in scholarly journals. Initially the objective of OA was a noble
initiative to help the scholarly researchers but with time, this free access concept has led to
fraudulent publishing. In this context, many of the publishers have exploited the author-pays
Gold OA model for their company’s profit2, 3. Jeffrey Beall, the Librarian of Auraria Library,
University of Colorado Denver, USA was the first to name these as ‘Predatory Publishers’4.
He started Beall’s list of Scholarly OA blog and prepared list of predatory journals and wrote
several articles about the bad practices of these publishers. Although it was controversial with
regard to the transparency of this list, the initiative itself was an outstanding. But the blog
started in 2010 disappeared suddenly on January 15, 2017 without giving any reasons5, 6.
Today India is the home of predatory journals who are charging a huge amount of money from
the authors with hardly any peer-reviewing process7. Many mediocre papers on predatory
journals have published from top Indian research institutions. In 2015, a team from Bio-Med
Central (BMC) analysed the works of 262 authors who have had their publications in predatory
journals out of which 35% (92) of them were Indians. According to Krishnaswamy
Vijayraghavan, the Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the fundamental problem
of publishing is that the people values where we publish and how many papers we publish
rather than what we publish. During old days quality was the criteria and people used to follow
ethics and work hard to publish a paper. Nowadays people are after metrics and these are the
surrogate markers of success7 in the present scholarly domain. Instead, the focus should be on
the quality of what we have published particularly in the science. Therefore, this problem needs
to be addressed at the earliest.
Another study was conducted by Seethapathy, et. al8 in between September 2015 to
February 2016 to find out the status of predatory journals published in India. They randomly
chose 3,300 papers written by first-time Indian authors from 350 journals taken from Beall’s
list of the scholarly OA blog ( The report indicated that more than
half of the papers (i.e. 51%) were by authors from government-run and private colleges, 18%
of them were from private universities/institutes, 15% of them were from state universities, 3%
of them were from central universities, and 2% of them were from companies and industries.
Interestingly it was found that about 11% of the papers were from India’s leading government
research organisations including ICAR (17%), CSIR (15%), NIT (11%) and 9% from IIT and
the remaining were from other national institutes. They found another interesting factors that
there is a relationship between academic discipline(s) coverage versus subject and academic
position of the corresponding authors. The majority (61%) of these publications are from life
sciences (37%) and medicine (25%) subjects. Less than half (45%) of the academic authors
including faculties/scientists/professors, less than a third (32%) of them are Ph.D. scholars and
post-doctoral researchers and others (23%) were the main consumers/producers of fraud
publishing. In the same study, it is found that 90% of the authors considered that their
publications are achievements and 73% of the authors indicated as an academic pressure to
publish research articles for the sake of job security and promotion.
During the past 3-4 years, the number of scholarly OA publishers has rapidly increased. Many
of these publishers are publishing sub-standard journals that are entered in the scholarly
publishing industry. Just as a bad fish can pollute the pond, these predatory publishers are
threatening the credibility of science by avoiding standard peer-review process and collecting
money from authors towards article processing charges (APCs). Sci-Hub, the world’s largest
pirated site for academic papers with over 58 million academic papers are available for freely
downloading bypassing publisher’s pay walls9. Alexandra Elbakyan, the founder of Sci-Hub,
was a science graduate student of Kazakhstan frustrated with the high cost of research papers
behind paywalls and came up with Sci-Hub in 20119. Initially Sci-Hub was highly controversial
among scientific and academic communities and was rebuked by a number of publishers. These
hoax journals are threatening the integrity of real science by neglecting peer review process10.
Beall indicated the academic institutions should not consider the quantity of published articles
as a measure of academic performance index (API). From the ethical point of view,
researchers/scientists should not cite articles from predatory journals and bibliographical
databases should exclude the metadata of such publications. To make the system more
stringent, all the reputed scholarly databases such as Scopus, Thomson Reuters, Web of
Science, need to eliminate all journals and publishers of predatory nature.
The field of medicine is worst affected by the sham publishing. Large publishing groups
are earning billions of dollars profit in the field of medical research because they know that
most of the researchers are paying money to publish their articles in medical related domain11.
Sometimes these fraudulent publishing firms are acquired by PUBMED indexed journals, a
legitimate organisation, to gain authenticity and that is a very serious matter. Recently the US
government has issued a cease and desist letter to one such publisher who has been accused of
falsely associating its name with PUBMED central, National Institutes of Health and its
employees on its website. A survey was conducted by Christopher and Young12 to study the
awareness of scientific writing among medical and veterinary authors indicated a level of
agreement about predatory journals. The majority (82.7%) of the respondents strongly agreed
that the decision to accept a manuscript should not be influenced by publication charges but
50% of them indicated that they did not know how to meet the publishing costs. Of the total
142 respondents answered, 33 (23%) of them indicated that their awareness about the term
predatory journal, 34 (23.9%) were aware of the Directory of OA Journals, 24 (16.9%) were
aware of the science sting article about predatory journals, and 7 (4.8%) were aware of Beall’s
list. The majority (64.5%) of their knowledge about predatory journals was poor and some
respondents were even misunderstood this term completely12.
Sham publishers/journals are corrupting the OA model and are creating publication
pollution2. They need to be countered right at the initial step. Beall argued that these journals
are exploiting the author-pays model and are damaging scholarly publishing which in turn is
promoting unethical behaviour among the researchers. Many of these publishers claim to be
headquartered in US and UK but in reality they are based in India, Pakistan or Nigeria2. They
send spam emails to authors with a request for submission of manuscript without mentioning
the required author fee. Later, once the paper is accepted, the authors are advised to pay article
processing charges as fees for processing the paper. Initially authors are asked to submit their
copyright of the work as part of the submission process so they were unable to withdraw the
paper or send it elsewhere and ultimately ending up paying APCs suggested by them.
Growth of these firms is not only a regional threat but a worldwide terror13. A mega-
journal named ‘The Scientific World Journal’, published by Cairo-based Hindawi Publishing
Corporation covers all scientific fields and takes USD 1000 towards APCs for each accepted
article3. Similarly, another known journal ‘Public Library of Science (PLOS)’ charges authors
in between USD 1350 to 2900 to publish an article3. These fraud publishers’ websites look
legitimate, hence difficult to decide by the professionals as the fraud publishers. If this trend
continues, a time will come when real and fake will eclipse each other. Shen & Bjork14 analysed
a sample of 613 journals using a stratified sampling method from a total of over 11,000 journals
identified in the Beall’s list. Information about the subject field, country of the publisher, APCs
and number of articles published in between 2010 and 2014 were manually collected from the
journals websites. They found that India had the highest percentage (34.7%) of predatory
publications (34.7%) among all countries14. It is estimated that authors on an average pay an
amount of USD 178 per article to publish their paper and takes only 2 to 3 months to publish
after their submission.
Today the OA domain is in problematic situation because of poor quality research and large
number of predatory journals13. The word ‘Predatory’ is a biological term defined by Merriam-
Webster dictionary as inclined or intended to injure or exploit others for personal gain or profit.
The term ‘Predatory Publisher’ was first coined by Jeffrey Beall in 20104.
According to Jeffrey Beall3, “Predatory open-access publishers are those that who
exploit unprofessionally the author-pays model of publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit.
These publishers typically have a low article acceptance threshold, with a false-front or non-
existent peer review process. They use deception to appear legitimate, entrapping researchers
in submitting their work and then charging them to publish it”.
Beall published his first list of predatory publishers on his blog in 201015, but it did not
draw any attention of public. In 2011, he published a second list of predatory publishers that
garnered much attention15. Later in early 2012, he updated his old blog and changed its name
to Scholarly OA ( In his blog, he divided them into two groups of
publishing; one was a list of publishers16 and other was a list of stand-alone journals17. The list
covers over one thousand entries (till the end of 2016) that covers some misleading metrics18
and hijack journals19 included after 2013.
Table 1. Beall’s list of predatory journals, 2010-2017
Duration No. of
No. of Standard-
alone Journals
No. of
No. of
2010-2011 18 - - -
2011-2012 23 - - -
2012-2013 225 126 - -
2013-2014 477 303 - -
2014-2015 693 507 30 26
2015-2016 923 882 101 28
2016-2017 (Jan 14) 1155 1294 115 53
The above table 1 shows the exponential growth rate of predatory journals. Beall had identified
18 predatory publishers in the year 2010-2011 which reached to 1155 journals by Jan 14, 2017.
In the case of stand-alone journals, the number was 126 in 2012-13 but reached to 1294 by
January 2017. Both hijacked journals and misleading metrics entered into the publishing field
in 2014-15 and multiplied to 115 and 53 respectively. The number of articles published by
predatory journals increased from 53,000 in 2010 to about 420,000 in 2014, covered by 8,000
The aim of this paper is to study the ongoing trends of predatory journals publishing in India.
The main objectives of the study are:
1) To find out the subject-wise distribution of predatory journals;
2) To identify misleading journal title, frequency and format of publications among
predatory journals; and
3) To analyze the false impact factor, indexing, and APCs of predatory journals.
The study mainly identified and analysed 157 stand-alone (individual) journals17 that are
published in India are collected from Beall’s list of predatory scholarly open-access journals.
The authors cross checked the facts claimed by the Beall with regard to all these 157 journals
going through their websites. The primary data are taken from each journal’s website (visited
157 journal’s website) manually and grouped them based on selected parameters such as
subject-wise predatory publications, misleading journal titles, frequency of publications,
format of publications, false impact factor/or indexed in the journal, and APCs. Accordingly,
data is analysed and presented in tables in the following sections.
7.1. Subject-wise coverage of predatory journals
Table 2. Subject wise analysis of predatory publications
Subject Coverage Number of Journals
Health & Medical Sciences 40
Pharmaceutical Sciences 38
Multidisciplinary 28
Biological Sciences 18
Engineering & Technology 13
Chemistry & Chemical Technology 9
Plant Sciences & Medicinal Plants 8
Science & Technology 8
Environmental Sciences 6
Natural Sciences 5
Life Sciences 5
Humanities & Social Sciences 4
Biotechnology 3
Management 3
Mathematics 2
Psychological & Behavioral Sciences 2
Library & Information Sciences 2
Commerce & Business Studies 2
Zoological Sciences 2
Food Science Technology & Clinical Nutrition
Home Science 1
Educational Science 1
Physical Education 1
Economics 1
Hindi Literature 1
English Language & Literature 1
Table 2 shows the subject-wise distribution of predatory journals. Health and medical sciences
leads with 40 predatory journals followed by pharmaceutical sciences with 38 and
multidisciplinary area with 28 predatory journals. A good number of journal’s scope is too
wide and covers all subject areas to attract authors and make money. They are publishing these
journals to extract big amount of money from authors in the form of APCs and do not have any
commitment on a particular subject of research communication. The subjects like Home
science, Educational science, Physical education, Economics, Hindi and English literature and
language are covered one journal each. The reasons for too high and too low numbers of
journals in these areas are to be explored in the future studies. There is no uniform growth in
all subjects and the development is based on the demand in each field.
7.2. Misleading Journals Titles
Table 3. Misleading Journal Title
Journal name starting with…
International Journal of… 32
Indian Journal of… 19
Asian Journal of… 10
American Journal of… 7
Global Journal of… 6
Asian Pacific Journal of… 5
European Journal of… 4
World Journal of… 3
British Journal of… 2
Indo-American Journal of… 2
Others 2
The titles of the predatory journals are analysed based on their initial starting words listed in
the above table 3. The leading phrases used by predatory journals are identified as “American
Journal of …” European Journal of…” “Asian Journal of…” and “International Journal of …
to attract the authors in publishing their papers. Actually these journals are published in India
but they claim that their company is located in UK or USA or Australia and fooling the authors.
This is one of the characteristic of a predatory journal.
7.3. Frequency of publications
Table 4. Frequency of Predatory Publications
No. of Publications
Frequency % of Frequency Publications
44 Monthly 28.03
40 Bimonthly 25.48
40 Quarterly 25.48
5 Biannually 3.19
3 Half-yearly 1.91
2 Triannual 1.27
1 Semi-monthly
1 Weekly 0.64
21 None 13.38
From the above table 4 it is clear that of the total, 78.99% of these publications are published
either monthly or bimonthly or quarterly. Of the total, 44 publications (28%) are published
monthly, i.e. highest in the list. Frequency also helps to those publishers so they are publishing
in shorter frequency period and that helps them in bringing more issues which means publishers
acquiring more money towards APCs. Some of these counterfeit journals have not mentioned
their frequency of their publications so that they can bring out any number of issues based on
the papers they have received. Since they are collecting publishing charges from authors they
are maximizing the profits by bringing out these journals as quickly as possible.
7.4. Formats of Publications
Most of these predatory journals offering ISSN No. and the majority of them are available
online (62.42%) while 8.28% are only in print form but 26.12% are available both in print and
online format. There is also another category of predatory journals which are not having ISSN
No., accounting for 3.19%. Nowadays getting ISSN is not difficult, one can get it by paying
some money to the respective office, and ISSN department do not see and check the quality of
the publication at all. Lack of quality control mechanism in the country is leading to this kind
of substandard publications in most of the fields.
7.5. False Impact Factors
Table 5 shows that 19 different impact factors started by several publishers imitating Web of
Science and that is confusing to the readers and authors. By way of giving these impact factors,
these publishers are trying to show the quality or standard of their publications is high and
trying to attract the authors to pay processing charges for their papers. However, none of these
are recognized in international publishing arena and all these publishers are cheating the
people. On the other hand, authors are also cheating their parent organizations by way of
claiming this kind of cheap impact factors for their promotions, selections etc. Since it is win-
to-win situation, these publishers are flourishing for the past one decade.
Table 5. Predatory publications false Impact Factors
Abbreviation Impact Factor Full Form URL
IBIF Info Base Index Factor
SJIF Scientific Journal Impact Factor
GIF Global Impact Factor
GIF General Impact Factor
DJQF Directory of Journal Quality Factor
CF Cite Factor
CIF Cosmos Impact Factor
UIF Universal Impact Factor
GSCIF Global Science Citation Impact
IIJIF International Innovative Journal
Impact Factor
RJIF Research Journal Impact Factor
JIFACTOR/JIF Journal Impact Factor
International Society for Research
Activity (ISRA) Journal Impact
Factor (JIF)
IRJIF International Research Journal
Impact Factor
IIFS International Impact Factor Services
DIIF Directory of Indexing and Impact
NJIF New Journal Impact Factor
IFSIJ Impact Factor Services for
International Journals
IJIF International Journal Impact Factor http://www.internationaljournalimpac
7.6. Ambiguous Impact Factor
Table 6. Organizations offering ambiguous Impact Factor
Name of Institute URL
I2OR International Institute of Organized Research
ISI Institute for Science Information
PSTER Prerna Society of Technical Education and
False impact factors and indexing journal that attract the users and authors by giving false
promises including indexed in highly reputed databases with high impact factors however, their
quality is very poor. These publishers established by new institutions for the sake of awarding
impact factor as listed in table 5. As we know Institute for Scientific Information (ISI),
Philadelphia is the original body who started impact factor but these publishers slightly
changing the same name and come up with another institution to fool the people.
7.7. Agencies that gives false indexing
The agencies listed in table 6 claim that they are at par with Scopus, Web of Science, EBSCO,
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory, Academic Journals
Database, and other world known indexing sources. Most of these journals print false impact
factor on their title page to attract authors for publishing their works. All the above listed
indexing sources are very much new to the publishing industry and mostly covering predatory
publications only.
Table 7. False indexing claims of predatory publications
Indexing Source Full Form URL
ICI Index Copernicus International
DRJI Directory of Research Journals Indexing
OAJI Open Academic Journals Index
ESJI Eurasian Scientific Journal Index
SIS Scientific Indexing Services
JI Jour Informatics
NJ New Jour
RI Root Indexing
SI SPARC Indexing
7.8. APCs
Table 8. APCs of predatory publishing
Authors Maximum APCs
Minimum APCs
Average APCs
Indian Authors 8625 INR 600 INR 1839.81 INR/ ~ 1840 INR
Foreign Authors
250 USD 30 USD 79.82 USD/ ~ 80 USD
APC is the fee charged to authors by the publishers to make a work freely available either on
an OA journal or on a hybrid journal. It is usually paid by an author’s institution or research
funding agency rather than by the author2, 4. These predatory journals are exploiting the fee
component of golden OA model, and making large profits. From the analysis (table 8) it is
found that these journals are charging on an average Rs.1840/- from Indian authors and USD
80 for authors from outside India (per article) towards article processing fee. The minimum
APCs starts from 600 INR and the maximum goes upto 8625 INR for Indian authors, similarly
for foreign authors the minimum is 30 USD and the maximum is 250 USD.
Predatory journals are the major problem for all the developing countries including India so
many low-quality papers are getting published21. In terms of their subject coverage, about 50%
predatory journals are in medical and pharmaceutical sciences. Many authors of these predatory
publications claims that new drugs can cure the existing diseases and that is a serious problem
to the society at large. If government is not taking proper action on these false / substandard
publishers, they will pollute entire scholarly communication, healthcare system and finally
cause lot of damage to common man’s health. Many of the predatory publishing houses used
the titles begins with “Asian Journal of …”, “American Journal of …”, “European Journal of
…”, “World Journal of …”, “International Journal of …”, “British Journal of …” etc. but these
are published in India, Pakistan or Nigeria. If we look at the frequency of the publications,
mostly these are monthlies (28.03%), bi-monthlies (25.48%) and quarterlies (25.48%).
Nowadays online publishing has emerged as preferable mode to many authors. It is found that
out of a total number of journals published, the majority (62.42%) of these publications are
online journals, that too predatory in nature. In addition, they also use false metrics to suggest
that these journals are indexed in many databases like SJIF, GIF, DRJI, DJQF, I2OR, etc. The
average APC of these journals is as high as Rs. 1840/- for Indian authors and 80 USD for
foreign authors. These publishers diluted the quality of research and flooding with papers of
no quality or fake results. The big danger comes from medicine and pharmaceutical journals
that are publishing fake research findings, drugs, etc. would cause life threat to a common man.
Predatory publishing is a serious and growing problem like cancer that is affecting on the ethics
and quality of scholarly publishing. Typical signs of predatory publishing are imitating journal
title by slightly changing the words, demanding high APCs after accepting the article, non-
existent editorial board members or having too large editorial board, fake impact factor and
claiming their journals are indexed in reputed databases, etc. The University Grants
Commission (UGC) notified a list of journals on January 10, 2017 that are given discipline
wise22; where research scholars and teachers can publish their papers for academic promotion,
recruitment etc.22, 23 and a revised UGC care list is published in 2019. This is a good step from
the UGC to control predatory publishing to some extent but this list has changed many times
because of identification and elimination of predatory publications in all these fields. Many
publishing houses have proliferated not only in India but also elsewhere, with the main aim of
making money. Here their main targets are academic faculties and all other researchers who
are getting trapped by these publishers with a promise of quick publication. These predatory
journals / publishers degraded the quality and hindering the growth of scholarly publishing.
Here, we cannot blame the publishing companies alone, the authors are also equally responsible
for publishing without following any standards for the sake of their promotions, job prospectus,
and increasing the number of papers. If the authorities do not recognize these publications for
all these purposes, authors are forced to go for quality journals and slowly the people who are
publishing in predatory journals will go down. Therefore: i) government, academic and R&D
institutions should derecognize predatory journals and impose bans on these publishing houses;
ii) in a specified time, if the journal is not able to get into a reputed indexing database, its ISSN
may be cancelled by the issuing authorities; iii) at the same time, the journals should be able to
raise to a minimum impact factor of Scopus or Emerald or any other standard database in a
fixed timeframe; iv) able to cover a minimum percentage of international authorship in the
journal; v) able get minimum number of citations within a stipulated period of time; and vi)
government should come up with awards for the quality of the journals and papers in each field
to maintain the standards in publications and encouraging scholarly publishing and to stop these
predatory journals. If such precaution are taken, the quality of publications will certainly
improve and predatory publications will disappear slowly from the publishing arena. Hope that
situation will emerge in India sooner than later for which government and quality assurance
agencies in education should act immediately.
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points/article17029900.ece (accessed on Sept. 26, 2017).
The term “Predatory” alludes to the assumption that these organizations prey on academics for financial gain by charging article processing charges (APC) while failing to meet scholarly publishing standards.Predatory publishing is a growing threat to the academic society. Considering this,the University Grants Commission (UGC),India’s statutory body for higher education,has responded by launching the University Grants Commission–Consortium for Academic Research and Ethics (UGC-CARE) list,which attempts to promote research quality,integration,and publication ethics.An online survey was undertaken to determine the perception and awareness of North Eastern Hill University’s researchers concerning predatory journals.A total of 160 respondents were recorded.The survey reveals that while the majority of participants (58.75%) were aware of predatory publications, a significant portion (41.25%) were not.It was found that a journal’s listing in UGC-CARE list is the most crucial factor in submitting an original manuscript for publication.Researchers,aware of the negative consequences of publishing in piracy-related publications,prefer not to submit their scientific work to such publishers as it risk tarnishing their reputation.As a result,research findings emphasize the necessity for awareness initiatives to educate researchers about predatory publications early in their academic careers.Research initiatives like the UGC-CARE list should be encouraged to minimize predatory publishing; promote quality and transparency in research. Abbreviation: NEHU- North Eastern Hill University, UGC- University Grants Commission, APC- Article Processing Charge, UGC-CARE- University Grants Commission - Consortium for Academic Research and Ethics, DOAJ- Directory of Open Access Journals, DOI - Digital Object Identifiers, API- Academic Performance Indicator
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Authors face many choices when selecting a journal for publication. Prospective authors, especially trainees, may be unaware of predatory online journals or how to differentiate them from legitimate journals. In this study we assessed awareness of open-access and predatory journals among prospective authors attending scientific writing workshops; our long-term goal was to inform educational goals for the workshops. We surveyed participants of writing workshops at veterinary and medical schools and an international conference over a 1-year period. The survey included 14 statements for respondents to indicate agreement level on a Likert-like scale and four questions on awareness of resources about predatory journals; respondents also defined predatory journal. A total of 145 participants completed the survey: 106 (73.1%) from veterinary schools and 86 (59.3%) graduate students or residents. Fewer faculty (vs trainees) agreed that open access was an important factor in deciding where to publish; faculty and postdoctoral researchers were more likely to expect to pay more to publish in an open-access journal. Most respondents (120/145, 82.7%) agreed/strongly agreed that the decision to accept a manuscript should not be influenced by publication charges, but 50% (56/112) indicated they didn’t know how publishing costs were supported. Of the 142 respondents who answered, 33 (23.0%) indicated awareness of the term predatory journal; 34 (23.9%) were aware of the Directory of Open Access Journals; 24 (16.9%) were aware of the Science sting article about predatory journals; and 7 (4.8%) were aware of Beall’s list. Most (93/144, 64.5%) definitions of predatory journals described poor but not predatory journal practices, and some respondents misunderstood the term completely. Mentors should help novice authors to be aware of predatory journals and to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate open-access journals, thus selecting the best journal for their work.
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Background A negative consequence of the rapid growth of scholarly open access publishing funded by article processing charges is the emergence of publishers and journals with highly questionable marketing and peer review practices. These so-called predatory publishers are causing unfounded negative publicity for open access publishing in general. Reports about this branch of e-business have so far mainly concentrated on exposing lacking peer review and scandals involving publishers and journals. There is a lack of comprehensive studies about several aspects of this phenomenon, including extent and regional distribution. Methods After an initial scan of all predatory publishers and journals included in the so-called Beall’s list, a sample of 613 journals was constructed using a stratified sampling method from the total of over 11,000 journals identified. Information about the subject field, country of publisher, article processing charge and article volumes published between 2010 and 2014 were manually collected from the journal websites. For a subset of journals, individual articles were sampled in order to study the country affiliation of authors and the publication delays. Results Over the studied period, predatory journals have rapidly increased their publication volumes from 53,000 in 2010 to an estimated 420,000 articles in 2014, published by around 8,000 active journals. Early on, publishers with more than 100 journals dominated the market, but since 2012 publishers in the 10–99 journal size category have captured the largest market share. The regional distribution of both the publisher’s country and authorship is highly skewed, in particular Asia and Africa contributed three quarters of authors. Authors paid an average article processing charge of 178 USD per article for articles typically published within 2 to 3 months of submission. Conclusions Despite a total number of journals and publishing volumes comparable to respectable (indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals) open access journals, the problem of predatory open access seems highly contained to just a few countries, where the academic evaluation practices strongly favor international publication, but without further quality checks.
The world wide web has brought about a paradigm shift in the way medical research is published and accessed. The ease with which a new journal can be started/hosted by publishing start-ups is unprecedented. The tremendous capabilities of the world wide web and the open access revolution when combined with a highly profitable business have attracted unscrupulous fraudulent operators to the publishing industry. The intent of these fraudulent publishers is solely driven by profit with utter disregard to scientific content, peer reviews and ethics. This phenomenon has been referred to as “predatory publishing”. The “international” tag of such journals often betrays their true origins.
Clark and colleagues discuss an important problem affecting research publication in many emerging low and middle income countries. But predatory journals and publishers are only part of the problem.1 The main problem is the low quality of research being done in these countries for various reasons, including lack of support for research, substandard infrastructure, and lack of incentives.2Good quality research done anywhere in the world can be published in high quality journals without much difficulty and does not need to be published in predatory journals. But for poorer quality research researchers turn towards predatory journals, which provide easy publication at some cost. Moreover, many of these predatory journals are searchable on Google Scholar, which has gained popularity among researchers in the past decade.3To solve the problem, many good institutes in low and middle income countries now encourage researchers to publish in reputable indexed journals and take into account the impact factor (Thomson Reuters), H index, and other matrices when recruiting and promoting researchers. But as well as optimising publication literacy and enforcing publication guidelines, research in low and middle income countries needs to be improved by enhancing resources and providing a supportive environment for research. Until that happens there will always be a market for predatory journals.NotesCite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h707