Should you trust Elsevier? |

Data broker RELX is represented on Twitter by their Chief Communications Officer Paul Abrahams. Due to RELX subsidiary Elsevier being one of the largest publishers of academic journals, Dr. Abrahams frequently engages with academics on the social media platform. On their official pages, Elsevier tries to emphasize that they really, really can be trusted, honestly […]


An open automation system for predatory journal detection | Scientific Reports

Abstract:  The growing number of online open-access journals promotes academic exchanges, but the prevalence of predatory journals is undermining the scholarly reporting process. Data collection, feature extraction, and model prediction are common steps in tools designed to distinguish between legitimate and predatory academic journals and publisher websites. The authors include them in their proposed academic journal predatory checking (AJPC) system based on machine learning methods. The AJPC data collection process extracts 833 blacklists and 1213 whitelists information from websites to be used for identifying words and phrases that might indicate the presence of predatory journals. Feature extraction is used to identify words and terms that help detect predatory websites, and the system’s prediction stage uses eight classification algorithms to distinguish between potentially predatory and legitimate journals. We found that enhancing the classification efficiency of the bag of words model and TF-IDF algorithm with diff scores (a measure of differences in specific word frequencies between journals) can assist in identifying predatory journal feature words. Results from performance tests suggest that our system works as well as or better than those currently being used to identify suspect publishers and publications. The open system only provides reference results rather than absolute opinions and accepts user inquiries and feedback to update the system and optimize performance.


Are papers published in predatory journals worthless? A geopolitical dimension revealed by content-based analysis of citations | Quantitative Science Studies | MIT Press

This study uses content-based citation analysis to move beyond the simplified classification of predatory journals. We present that, when we analyze papers not only in terms of the quantity of their citations but also the content of these citations, we are able to show the various roles played by papers published in journals accused of being predatory. To accomplish this, we analyzed the content of 9,995 citances (i.e., citation sentences) from 6,706 papers indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection, which cites papers published in so-called “predatory” (or questionable) journals. The analysis revealed that the vast majority of such citances are neutral (97.3%), and negative citations of articles published in the analyzed journals are almost completely nonexistent (0.8%). Moreover, the analysis revealed that the most frequently mentioned countries in the citances are India, Pakistan, and Iran, with mentions of Western countries being rare. This highlights a geopolitical bias and shows the usefulness of looking at such journals as mislocated centers of scholarly communication. The analyzed journals provide regional data prevalent for mainstream scholarly discussions, and the idea of predatory publishing hides geopolitical inequalities in global scholarly publishing. Our findings also contribute to the further development of content-based citation analysis.

Identity theft victims challenge Prime Scholars | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Leading international scientists who discovered articles written by artificial intelligence that have been published in their name have backed plans for legal action.

In recent months, academics at leading universities in Europe, North America and Australia have been alerted to low-quality scholarly articles – often little more than a page long, probably written by a language scraping algorithm – appearing in their name in titles published by Prime Scholars, an open access publisher registered to a west London address. …”

Open access and predatory publishing: a survey of the publishing practices of academic pharmacists and nurses in the United States | Journal of the Medical Library Association

Abstract:  Objective: Academics are under great pressure to publish their research, the rewards for which are well known (tenure, promotion, grant funding, professional prestige). As open access publishing gains acceptance as a publishing option, researchers may choose a “predatory publisher.” The purpose of this study is to investigate the motivations and rationale of pharmacy and nursing academics in the United States to publish in open access journals that may be considered “predatory.”

Methods: A 26-item questionnaire was programmed in Qualtrics and distributed electronically to approximately 4,500 academic pharmacists and nurses, 347 of whom completed questionnaires (~8%). Pairwise correlations were performed followed by a logistic regression to evaluate statistical associations between participant characteristics and whether participants had ever paid an article processing fee (APF).

Results: Participants who had published more articles, were more familiar with predatory publishing, and who were more concerned about research metrics and tenure were more likely to have published in open access journals. Moderate to high institutional research intensity has an impact on the likelihood of publishing open access. The majority of participants who acknowledged they had published in a predatory journal took no action after realizing the journal was predatory and reported no negative impact on their career for having done so.

Conclusion The results of this study provide data and insight into publication decisions made by pharmacy and nursing academics. Gaining a better understanding of who publishes in predatory journals and why can help address the problems associated with predatory publishing at the root.

US open access mandate must not benefit grifters | Times Higher Education (THE)

“I fully endorse the principle that publicly funded research should be freely available to everyone. But my recent experiences with open access “publishers” suggest we should take great care with how the mandate is implemented in practice.

I first became aware of so-called predatory publishers through their incessant email spamming despite oft-repeated requests to unsubscribe me. But after a paper of mine was rejected by several more mainstream journals, I decided to conduct a controlled experiment with the spammers….”

Nigeria tackles publishing in predatory journals

“Higher education institutions in Nigeria need to train academics to spot fraudulent journals, researchers say.

The researchers, members of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), noted this in a communique released to the public on 21 July after convening a roundtable discussion on 29 March to discuss fighting predatory academic practices….

Nigeria is one of the largest contributors to predatory journals, according to a 2015 study published in BMC Medicine. This was attributed to tight demands for academics to publish and a lack of resources to publish in high profile journals….”


The Private Side of Public Universities: Third-party providers and platform capitalism | UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education

Hamilton, L., Daniels, H., Smith, C., & Eaton, C. (2022). The Private Side of Public Universities: Third-party providers and platform capitalism. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education. Retrieved from Abstract: The rapid rise of online enrollments in public universities has been fueled by a reliance on for-profit, third-party providers—especially online program managers. However, scholars know very little about the potential problems with this arrangement. We conduct a mixed methods analysis of 229 contracts between third-party providers and 117 two-year and four-year public universities in the US, data on the financing structure of third-party providers, and university online education webpages. We ask: What are the mechanisms through which third-party relationships with universities may be exploitative of students or the public universities that serve them? To what extent are potentially predatory processes linked to the private equity and venture capital financing structure of third-party providers? We highlight specific mechanisms that lead to five predatory processes: the targeting of marginalized students, extraction of revenue, privatization by obfuscation, for-profit creep, and university captivity. We demonstrate that contracts with private equity and venture capital financed third-party providers are more likely to include potentially problematic contract stipulations. We ground our findings in a growing body of work on “platform capitalism” and include recommendations for state universities, accreditors, and federal policy.  

Keep calm and carry on: moral panic, predatory publishers, peer review, and the emperor’s new clothes | Journal of the Medical Library Association

Abstract:  The moral panic over the impact of so-called predatory publishers continues unabated. It is important, however, to resist the urge to simply join in this crusade without pausing to examine the assumptions upon which such concerns are based. It is often assumed that established journals are almost sacrosanct, and that their quality, secured by peer review, is established. It is also routinely presumed that such journals are immune to the lure of easy money in return for publication. Rather than looking at the deficits that may be apparent in the practices and products of predatory publishers, this commentary invites you to explore the weaknesses that have been exposed in traditional academic journals but are seldom discussed in the context of predatory publishing. The inherent message for health and medical services staff, researchers, academics, and students is, as always, to critically evaluate all sources of information, whatever their provenance.


Implementation of promotion standards to discourage publishing in questionable journals: the role of the library – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  To discourage faculty members from publishing in questionable journals, tenure and promotion standards in which the librarians play an active role can been developed. These standards have been effective in terms of identifying publications in questionable outlets. However, we need to explore how these systems are perceived by the main actors in research, which are the researchers. This study explores the perception of the researchers at a university in Ghana who have been evaluated by a system implemented to discourage publishing in questionable publication outlets. We collected data using an online, largely qualitative questionnaire distributed to all faculty members that had applied for promotion since the implementation of the verification process. The results show that the majority of the faculty members are satisfied or very satisfied with the new tenure and promotion standards. There are differences across faculties, and this seems to be tied to concerns about the choice of publication outlets. Furthermore, the dissatisfied faculty members are concerned with the role of the library in the verification process whereas the satisfied trust the judgement of the librarians. We discuss implications of the results as well as future development of the standards.


The Price of Publishing: An Investigation of the Open Access… : Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Abstract:  Background: 

Open access publishing in plastic surgery has rapidly gained traction in the past decade. This study investigated the digital landscape of plastic surgery open access publishing.


This was a cross-sectional bibliometric investigation of plastic surgery–focused journals. Three publication models were investigated: subscription-only journals, hybrid journals offering both paywalled and open access publishing, and open access–only journals.


Eighty-two journals were investigated. In 2010, open access journals comprised 18 percent of all plastic surgery journals online, subscription journals comprised 79 percent, and hybrid journals comprised 3 percent. Conversely, in 2020, open access journals comprised 55 percent of all journals, hybrid journals comprised 45 percent, and there were no subscription-only journals. Multivariable linear regression adjusting for article type/content demonstrated that open access articles from hybrid journals [beta coefficient, 1.3; F(4, 18) = 790; p = 0.05] and high-quality open access journals [beta coefficient, 0.9; F(4, 19) = 738; p = 0.04] were significantly positively associated with number of full-text views. Although impact factor and article processing charges were positively correlated [Pearson correlation coefficient: r(25) = 0.39, p = 0.04] for open access publishing, some high-quality open access journals were found to offer fee waivers/free publishing. Lastly, level of evidence offered by articles from open access versus hybrid journals differed.


Overall, this study highlighted important distinctions between trustworthy and predatory journals offering open access publishing in plastic surgery. Open access publishing in trustworthy sources offers greater visibility and is not necessarily cost-prohibitive, but some open access journals can be limited in scope (i.e., less coverage of subspecialty topics) and quality of content. Study findings were used to generate recommendations for navigating open access publishing in plastic surgery.

Introducing level X in the Norwegian Publication Indicator | Nordic Perspectives on Open Science

Røeggen, Vidar. 2021. “Introducing Level X in the Norwegian Publication Indicator: Involving the Research Community When Evaluating Journals Operating in the Borderland Between Predatory and Reputable Practice”. Nordic Perspectives on Open Science, December.

By introducing the Norwegian Publication Indicator in 2004 Norway became part of an international development in which the allocation of basic funds to research institutions is increasingly linked to performance indicators (Dansk center for forskningsanalyse, 2014). Denmark and Finland have also implemented what is frequently labeled as “The Norwegian Model”. The model has inspired changes in similar national models in Flanders (Belgium) and Poland, and it is used for local purposes by several universities in Sweden and by University of Dublin, in Ireland (Sivertsen, 2018). The research community has been deeply involved in designing and adopting the model in Norway, and the annual processes evaluating journals depend on involvement by panels in every field of research. The indicator has an interactive webpage where researchers can communicate and discuss publication channels openly, and the final decisions made by panels when nominating journals to the highest level (level 2) are transparent and openly available at the webpage.

The indicator depends on information from a national registry of approved publication channels that is managed by The Directorate of Higher Education and Skills (HK-dir.). As of November 2021, The Norwegian register for scientific journals, series and publishers contains 26 127 journals at the basic level (level 1) and 2 193 journals at the highest level (level 2), and level 2 journals are identified by research panels in 84 different fields of research. Researchers can suggest new publication channels to the registry and these suggestions are examined according to our four criteria:

Journals/series must:

Be identified with a valid ISSN, confirmed by The International ISSN Register (demand from 2014)
Have an academic editorial board (or an equivalent) primarily consisting of researchers from universities, institutes or organizations that do research
Have established procedures for external peer review
Have a national or international authorship, meaning that maximum 2/3 of the authors can belong to the same institution

Publishers must:

Be organized in an editorial way to publish publications in accordance with the definition of a scientific publication
Have a scientific publishing program with external advisors and aiming for distribution to scholars and research institutions
Have a national or international authorship, meaning that maximum 2/3 of the authors can belong to the same institution

New suggestions are prepared by the secretariate at the register, and then finally approved by The National Board of Scholarly Publishing (NPU). So, the research community is deeply involved, both in the operations and further development of the indicator.

The secretariate at HK-dir. processes approximately 1 600 new proposals annually and NPU observe a new tendency in recent years: that an ever-increasing number of the incoming suggestions represents channels where there is uncertainty about approval or rejection. On the one hand, an examination of the available information on these journals’ webpages shows that the journals apparently satisfy our criteria. However, NPU sometimes identify ongoing discussion in the research community as to whether editorial practice is in accordance with how the journals describe their own routines. In addition, researchers often inform both NPU and the secretariate at HK-dir. about their own (bad) experience with a journal and ask us to investigate further.

Researchers often refer to these journals as “predatory journals” or the activity they represent as “predatory publishing”. But what does predatory publishing mean in 2021? The term has been co-opted to describe a range of activities including lack of rigorous peer review to exploitative publishing models (Hanson, 2021). Journals or publishers are not either predatory or representatives of high standards – they are rather on a continuum from predatory to high standards of research integrity and practice. Therefore, NPU discuss where to draw the line on this continuum.

Open Access as a Regulation of Scientific Information in Health – Information Practices and Knowledge in Health – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  This chapter aims to give an account of the regulations generated by Open Access and which today link the field of scientific communication with the field of Health. It addresses the way these regulations affect the publication and dissemination models of digital scientific information. The aim is to provide an account of the nature of these regulations and the issues they raise regarding scientific certification, regulations and issues that are crucial in Health. The evolution of the scientific publishing sector in the field of Health, subject to policy requirements, has therefore encouraged the development of the Gold model, and particularly the Gold Author-Pays model. It is no longer possible to address Gold Open Access journals without the phenomenon of predatory journals being included in the debate. Funding agencies very quickly began paying attention to the rise of Open Access.