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What is predatory publishing?
Predatory publishers exploit people who want to publish their work. These publishers may charge exorbitant fees for publication or make the author promises about article indexing and author ranking that they can’t deliver. The main goal of predatory publications are to get people to publish their work and to make money for themselves; predatory publishers do not focus on quality, and they may not even provide peer review. Predatory publishers often take advantage of the open access model of publishing where readers don’t pay a fee but publishers make money when authors pay a fee; however, it is important to realize that there are many high quality open access journals, so being open access does not mean a journal is predatory.
This guide will provide you with tips on how to evaluate journal quality to avoid falling victim to predatory publishing.
Types of Predatory Publishers
According to O'Donnell (2019), there are four major types of predatory publishers.: The information below is adapted from her Predatory Publishing LibGuide for Iowa State University.
- Phisher – This type of publisher is similar to an email phishing scheme; you get lured in with the hopes you accept terms that are not beneficial to you. In the case of predatory publishing, though, you aren't having your password and accounts hacked. In this case, you are lured in with acceptance of your article, and then publication fees are disclosed and charged after your article is accepted. This type of publisher may demand payment from you even if you have no signed agreement to provide payment.
- Impostor/Hijacker – In this case, a predatory publisher poses as a journal that is affiliated with a well-known organization or association. If that organization publishes its own journal, the predatory publisher will have a journal with a title very similar to the credible journal. This publisher wants you to believe it is associated with the credible journal and organization, so it does its best to look like that journal.
- Trojan Horse – This type of predatory publisher appears legitimate when you look at the surface-level aspects of the website. It is likely designed well and appears to have an impressive list of journals which it publishes. But this is where website evaluation skills come in. Once you start clicking journal links, you may discover those links are dead, the information on the pages is outdated, or they are fake journals. The journals may also be poor quality or even contain plagiarized material.
- Unicorn – This is a predatory publisher that seems too good to be true. This publisher may be a legitimate business, but it ultimately provides poor customer service or poor products, has inadequate policies (i.e. no archiving of materials), has poorly defined publishing criteria, or perhaps engages in unethical publishing conduct.
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