HOW TO IDENTIFY PREDATORY JOURNALS AND CONFERENCES

Hi all, welcome back to scienceIQ. Today we will discuss an interesting and important topic on publishing in predatory journals/conferences. The term ‘predatory’ literally means exploiting someone for their benefit.  It has a similar meaning when we talk about predatory journals.

What is a predatory journal – Predatory journals are money-making journals that compromise science by skipping the peer review process and publish for the sake of money collected from the authors. They lure young researchers and students with their fast publication and no-rejection policy. Naïve researchers are most likely to fall into this trap of super-easy publishing. It completely skips the scientific evaluation of a paper that defeats the purpose of publication.

Before we submit our research to any journal or think of presenting it in any conference, we should thoroughly analyze the quality of the journal or conference. It is like solving a mystery or puzzle. We have to be extra alert and cautious. Here are a few tips to help you make the decision.

  • Journal indexing – I feel the first thing to check in a journal is its indexing. You can consider submitting your paper if the journal is Scopus or Web of Science indexed. PubMed is also good, but there is a rise of predatory journals in PubMed too. You can also go and check the quartile to which your journal belongs in Scopus. Quartile 4 should be a red flag sign.
  • Journal title – Journal title is the first thing we see before submitting a paper, and predatory journals know that. That is why the title of predatory journals will generally be “International journal of something” or “World Journal of something else.” It may not provide a detailed idea about the journal, but it may give you a hint to investigate further.
  • Fees transparency– Look at Article Processing Charges (APCs) before submitting your paper. Usually, good quality journals state their APCs outright and show transparency in publication charges. Open access journals have APCs for publication. Predatory journals will not provide any details or structure for APCs, and they claim the money after you send your paper to them. I was also a victim of one such journal but we (my supervisors and I) decided to withdraw the paper after they asked for the money, which was not disclosed anywhere on the website. So thankful for that decision.
  • Publication time – The next thing to identify is the time taken from submitting the paper to its publication. Usually, journals take six months to 1 year for publishing after submitting the paper. A very fast process should be critically analyzed because it shows a lack of peer-review, which is the hallmark of a predatory journal. If a journal is readily accepting your paper without any corrections or revisions and publishing articles within a week or month, then be very cautious. You may be trapped. 
  • Editorial board – Another important aspect to look for is the credibility of the editorial board. Are they professors in a University or hold a permanent academic position? What is their expertise and years of experience? Check their profile on their university website and even their H-indices. Everything matters.

By now, you would have decided on the standard of the journal, but if in doubt, go ahead and analyze it further.

  • Grammar errors – If you read between the lines, you may find few typo/spelling errors. You can also look for grammatical or English errors on the journal website. If you are easily able to find such flaws, then there are high chances of it being a predatory journal.
  • Personal email ids – Another important area to explore is the email addresses of the editors. Mostly, the editors provide their university email addresses but, if you find their personal email ids such as Gmail and yahoo, then double-check the credibility of such a journal.
  • Website homepage – Check the website homepage and see it is too catchy or attractive – colorful styles, huge fonts, and flashy links. It may not look like a scientific journal. Also, check the previous volumes and issues of published articles. Reading articles published in a predatory journal may also give some form of a clue – fraudulent or spurious articles.  
  • Scope of journal/conference – Another peculiar thing about the predatory journals is that they cover diverse topics and areas. They may publish articles related to agriculture, social science, or medicine, and almost everything. So, always look for streamlined and focused journals in your field.
  •  Publication by invitation – This is a trending style of predatory journals/conferences. You will get ten invitations per day in your inbox to publish in such journals. We recently got an email from some conference stating that we will be awarded for our previously published paper. When we read further, it stated that we need to register for the conference and pay 8000 INR to receive the award! We don’t have to spend money to get such awards.

So, these were a few tips for identifying any predatory journals/conferences. I came to know about it by attending various seminars and conference sessions. Remember, it is very easy but FOOLISH to publish in a predatory journal. You will never become the scientist that you want to become by publishing in these journals.  Be careful.

Happy Learning,

Published by amreenscience

I am a Research Scholar from India. I am doing my Ph.D. research on 'Stroke Rehabilitation.' Being the President of Student Research Forum of my college inspired me to start a blog on research for beginners. I love to help people learning to do scientific research and make science more manageable for them. This blog is dedicated for step by step ways to do different forms of research, scientific presentation, and publication. Hope you enjoy and learn from it!

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