Some while ago, I re-blogged a post about what appeared to be academic malfeasance by an open-access academic publisher based in Canada. Regrettably, such practices are far from uncommon, as the pressure to publish has blurred the lines between bona fide academic journals and commercial enterprises that will publish just about anything for a fee. It is admittedly difficult, especially for junior researchers and teaching practitioners, to always be able to assess the legitimacy of potential publication venues, especially when it comes to open-access publications, which are likely to charge publication fees (cf. an earlier discussion on the topic).
In view of this, I was very happy to read a recent article by Willy Renandya, where he discusses the hallmarks of ‘fly-by-night’ commercial journals. The article, which I strongly recommend reading in its entirety, cautions authors against journals with:
- High publication fees (often called article processing charges or APCs), often in the range of $300 or more;
- High publication frequency, e.g., more than four issues per year;
- High acceptance rate (mainstream journals tend to have an acceptance rate of 30%);
- Quick turnaround (standards range between four and six months, with longer wait times being common);
- Uneven quality of published articles, e.g., non-standard usage of language, obvious methodological flaws; and
- Editorial teams made up of obscure members (but note that some journals will even list prominent academics without their knowledge!)
Teachers and academics who feel pressured to publish may be tempted to resort to such journals. However, as Renandya argues:
It’s not worth paying $500 to get your paper published in a bogus international journal. Use the money instead for other more useful purposes. You can donate it to a charitable organization or set up a scholarship fund for your needy students. Or use it for your own professional development needs by buying reference materials produced by respectable publishers.
Readers may wish to consult a very useful list (update: currently definct) of publishers who appear to engage in dubious publication practices, compiled by Jeffrey Beal, a librarian at Auraria Library (University of Colorado Denver). One should note that most of these publishers are umbrella ventures which publish several journals.
Featured Image: “Danger” by Shawn Carpenter @ Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0