Blacklisting or Whitelisting? Deterring Faculty in Developing Countries from Publishing in Substandard Journals

Abstract:  A thriving black-market economy of scam scholarly publishing, typically referred to as ‘predatory publishing,’ threatens the quality of scientific literature globally. The scammers publish research with minimal or no peer review and are motivated by article processing charges and not the advancement of scholarship. Authors involved in this scam are either duped or willingly taking advantage of the low rejection rates and quick publication process. Geographic analysis of the origin of predatory journal articles indicates that they predominantly come from developing countries. Consequently, most universities in developing countries operate blacklists of deceptive journals to deter faculty from submitting to predatory publishers. The present article discusses blacklisting and, conversely, whitelisting of legitimate journals as options of deterrence. Specifically, the article provides a critical evaluation of the two approaches by explaining how they work and comparing their pros and cons to inform a decision about which is the better deterrent.

Payouts push professors towards predatory journals

If South Africa truly wants to encourage good research, it must stop paying academics by the paper…

Why are South Africans relying so much on journals that do little or nothing to ensure quality? In an effort to boost academic productivity, the country’s education department launched a subsidy scheme in 2005. It now awards roughly US$7,000 for each research paper published in an accredited journal. Depending on the institution, up to half of this amount is paid directly to faculty members. At least one South African got roughly $40,000 for research papers published in 2016 — about 60% of a full professor’s annual salary. There is no guarantee (or expectation) that a researcher will use this money for research purposes. Most simply see it as a financial reward over and above their salaries….

In my experience, publication subsidies promote several other counterproductive practices. Some researchers salami-slice their research to spread it across more papers. Others target low-quality journals that are deemed less demanding….”

 

Open access medical journals: Benefits and challenges – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  The world of medical science literature is ever increasingly accessible via the Internet. Open access online medical journals, in particular, offer access to a wide variety of useful information at no cost. In addition, they provide avenues for publishing that are available to health care providers of all levels of training and practice. Whereas costs are less with the publishing of online open access journals, fewer resources for funding and technical support also exist. A recent rise in predatory journals, which solicit authors but charge high fees per paper published and provide low oversight, pose other challenges to ensuring the credibility of accessible scientific literature. Recognizing the value and efforts of legitimate open access online medical journals can help the reader navigate the over 11,000 open access journals that are available to date.

Prevalence of publishing in predatory journals

Abstract:  Objectives: In 2017 the journal Nature published challenges to the assumption that research intensive U.S. institutions are immune to the hazards of predatory publishing. Sample articles from hundreds of potentially predatory journals were analyzed: the NIH was the most frequent funder and Harvard was among the most frequent institutions. Our study was designed to identify the publication prevalence at our institution. 

Methods: Predatory publishers were defined using an archived version of Beall’s list, a now defunct website that was widely recognized as the only comprehensive black list for potential predators. The archive was collected January 15, 2017 and reflects updates made 1-2 weeks prior. To identify our NIH publications, records were collected from PubMed Central using an institution search and limiting to 2011-2016 to reflect a five-year period covered by Beall’s last update. PMC was selected under the assumption that direct journal inclusion in PubMed/MedLine serves as a proxy for quality. Journal and ISSN data were referenced against Ulrich’s Periodical Directory to determine publishers. Data were then compared against the Beall’s listing of potentially predatory publishers and standalone journals. The publication costs for the predatory journals were used to determine the total amount of NIH funding used to pay for publications in predatory journals. 
 
Results: The review of the University’s Publications submitted to PubMed Central from 2011 to 2016 revealed 15090 publications. Of those 15090 articles 218 publications (1.4%) were from publishers that fell in Beall’s list of predatory publishers. A review of publication fees for the publishers that University faculty published in revealed that approximately $300,000 dollars of Federal grant money was spent over the 5 year period publishing in predatory publications. 
 
Conclusions: Previously, it was thought that publishing predatory journals was primarily a problem in developing countries. However, like the 2017 Nature study, we found that researchers publishing at Emory are publishing in journals that are considered predatory. While the rate of publication in predatory journals is low (1.4%) it did cost approximately $300,000 of Federal tax payer money, which amounts to approximately 70% of the funds of one year of the average NIH R01 grant.

Being a deliberate prey of a predator: Researchers’ thoughts after having published in predatory journal

“The literature claims that mainly researchers from low-ranked universities in developing countries publish in predatory journals. We decided to challenge this claim using the University of Southern Denmark as a case. We ran the Beall’s List against our research registration database and identified 31 possibly predatory publications from a set of 6,851 publications within 2015-2016. A qualitative research interview revealed that experienced researchers from the developed world publish in predatory journals mainly for the same reasons as do researchers from developing countries: lack of awareness, speed and ease of the publication process, and a chance to get elsewhere rejected work published. However, our findings indicate that the Open Access potential and a larger readership outreach were also motives for publishing in open access journals with quick acceptance rates. …”

A Clean House at the Directory of Open Access Journals – ACRL TechConnect

“The work that DOAJ is doing to improve transparency and the screening process is very important for open access advocates, who will soon have a tool that they can trust to provide much more complete information for scholars and librarians. For too long we have been forced to use the concept of a list of “questionable” or even “predatory” journals. A directory of journals with robust standards and easy to understand interface will be a fresh start for the rhetoric of open access journals….”

Impact of Social Sciences – The “problem” of predatory publishing remains a relatively small one and should not be allowed to defame open access

“A recent investigation led by an international group of journalists raised concerns over the scale of the problem of deceptive publishing practices, with many researchers of standing and reputation found to have published in “predatory” journals. However, while the findings of this investigation garnered significant media attention, the robustness of the study itself was not subject to the same scrutiny. To Tom Olijhoek and Jon Tennant, the profile afforded to investigations of this type causes some to overstate the problem of predatory publishing, while often discrediting open access publishing at the same time. The real problem here is one of education around questionable journals, and should not distract from more urgent questions around the shifting scholarly ecosystem….”

o’Peer: open Peer review

“Following a Peer Review session at the AAAS meeting this week, I am going to record my thoughts for posterity, proselytizing shamelessly about my vision for the future of peer review.

So… let me begin with the catchy name. The system I propose is entirely reliant on the Internet, and everyone knows that the first requirement for success of any new Internet entity is a catchy name. I trust (especially in context) that the intended connotations are obvious: Peer needs no explanation; the O’ prefix stands variously for of or by peers and for a shortening of Open, which you will see is a key feature. That being said, if you want to call it something else, go for it! This is only a suggestion….

What we really need is a (multiparameter) “credibility profile” for each reviewer of any paper. If every would-be referee were thus rated, it might be feasible to Open up peer review without erasing its effectiveness….”

Let us prey – journals that aren’t all they claim to be | Don’t Forget the Roundabouts

“If you discount the increasing number of spam invitations clogging up your email in-box, predatory journals are mainly a minor nuisance for us academics, the biggest problem being when you are doing a literature search and have to sift out the crap.  In the long-term, work published in the predatory journals will mostly go unrecognised and uncited by the relevant academic communities.  The problem arises when a non-expert member of the public or worse still, a journalist comes across what looks like a legitimate paper when searching the internet and takes what they read as gospel.  After all, it has been published in a journal, it must be right….”

STM statement on the increase of unethical and deceptive journal practices

“The last decade has seen a worrying increase in the number of unethical research publications, as well as an exponential rise in so-called ‘predatory’ journals and publishers. High levels of trust are vital to ensuring that the publication and sharing of research results helps to advance research, the global pool of knowledge and the careers of researchers and investigators. Publication practices vary across both academic disciplines and countries, but there are common ethical standards and behaviours that ensure that articles that are published in trustworthy peer-reviewed journals are of the highest standards.”

FTC motion for summary judgment against OMICS

The US Federal Trade Commission has filed a motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against OMICS. 

“In order to persuade consumers to submit articles to their journals for publication, Defendants make numerous misrepresentations regarding the nature and reputation of their journals. Defendants also fail to disclose the significant fees associated with their publishing services. Finally, Defendants make additional misrepresentations in connection with the marketing of their scientific conferences….On September 29, 2017, on motion by the FTC, the Court entered a preliminary injunction against Defendants…temporarily enjoining their deceptive practices. The FTC hereby moves the Court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 56-1, for summary judgment against Defendants. As discussed below, summary judgment is appropriate in this case because the FTC has presented overwhelming and uncontroverted evidence that Defendants violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act…and because there are no genuine issues of material fact requiring a trial….”

What Page Are You On? Making Online Texts More Reliable for Teachers and Students | UVA Today

“These older novels, often required reading in survey courses on literature, are in the public domain – and that’s why publishers and companies are racing to put them online without having to worry about copyright law. And while free access is a key component, students are not equipped to evaluate what they are getting.”

Europe set to miss flagship open access target | THE News

“The European Union is set to miss its target of having all scientific research freely available by 2020, as progress towards open access hits a “plateau” because of deeper problems in how research is assessed. Sixty to 70 per cent of universities reported that less than a fifth of their researchers’ peer-reviewed publications are freely available, depending on the type of open access, according to a survey of more than 300 members of the European University Association. 

Only one in 10 universities said that more than 40 per cent of their research was published as “gold” open access, where there is no delay making it public. In 2016, EU member states’ science and industry ministers, supported by the European Commission, backed a move to full open access in just four years. This latest survey asks members about papers published in 2013, 2014 and 2015, so may not capture all progress made to date. But it still concludes that to hit the 2020 target “will require greater engagement by all of the relevant stakeholders”.

This chimes with an EU progress report released at the end of February which concludes that “100 per cent full open access in 2020 is realistically not achievable in the majority of European countries participating in this exercise in the foreseeable future”. Lidia Borrell-Damian, the EUA’s director for research and innovation, said that “unfortunately [full open access] is very difficult to achieve” and that “we have reached a plateau in which it’s very difficult to move forward”.

Open access had taken off in some subjects – like physics, where the open access arXiv pre-print platform is widely used – in which “traditional indicators” of journal prestige such as impact factors and other measures of citations were “less relevant”, she explained. But in most disciplines, these measures were still crucial for burnishing researchers’ career prospects, she added, making it difficult for authors to switch to less prestigious, lower impact factor open access journals. “As long as it [research assessment] is based on these proxy indicators, it’s impossible to change the game,” Dr Borrell-Damian said. Search our database of more than 3,000 global university jobs

This is backed up by the survey findings. The biggest barrier to publishing in an open access repository was the “high priority given to publishing in conventional journals”, a hindrance cited by more than eight in 10 universities. “Concerns about the quality of open access publications” were also mentioned by nearly 70 per cent of respondents. In some disciplines, to publish open access, “you have to be a believer or activist” and it comes “at the risk of damaging your own career”, Dr Borrell-Damian said.

Echoing a long-standing concern in science, she argued that “we need a whole new system” of research assessment that does not rely so heavily on citations and impact factors. The EU’s flagship Horizon 2020 funding scheme requires grant recipients to publish their findings openly, but this was a far from universal policy for national funding bodies, she added. A spokesman for the EU Council acknowledged that “more efforts will be needed overall to accelerate progress towards full open access for all scientific publications”.”

Enough is enough. Academics must stand up against this bullshit | The Spinoff

“A growing number of scientists are reporting their methods and data online and in real time, rather than only publishing their most exciting results behind a paywall in some academic journal. It’s called open science, but is nowhere near being the accepted way to carry out scientific research. This has to change. Now. Maintaining public trust in science depends on it….”