How researchers can protect themselves from publishing and conference scams

Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian at ANU and AOASG’s Deputy Chair, provides practical advice to researchers on how to prevent exploitation through being published in a journal, or participating in a conference, that could be considered “predatory” or “vanity”.

With the evolution of open access, enterprises have emerged that run conferences and journals with low or no peer review or other quality mechanisms. They approach academics, particularly early career academics, soliciting contributions for reputable sounding journals and conferences.

On 2 August, the ABC’s Background briefing highlighted the operation of this industry, Predatory publishers criticised for ‘unethical, unprincipled’ tactics” focusing in particular on one organisation, OMICS. There is little doubt that the industry has burgeoned.  The standard of review in such unethical journals can best be described by the example of the article written by David Mazières and Eddie Kohler which contains basically the words of the title repeated over and over. The article was accepted by the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology and the review process included a peer review report that described it as “excellent”. You can see the documentation here. Not only will these publishers take your publications, they will charge you for the pleasure (or lack of).

Jeffrey Beall, librarian at Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver, coined the term “predatory publisher” after noticing a large number of emails requesting he submit articles to or join editorial boards of journals he had not heard of.  His research has resulted in lists – “Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers” and “Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access journals”.

While Beall’s lists have been the subject of some debate, acknowledging publishers that are low quality is important to assist researchers. The debate on predatory publishing does not mean that open access publishing is poor per se. There are many high quality open access publishers, including well established university presses at the University of Adelaide, the Australian National University and University of Technology, Sydney.

Ensuring the quality of the journals you submit to and conference you propose papers for is important to assist you in developing your research profile and building your career.

And don’t forget, traditional publishers can also have problems of quality. For example, in early 2014 Springer and IEEE removed more than 120 papers after Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, discovered  computer-generated papers published in their journals.

How can you prevent this happening to you?

Three major tips are:

  • If you haven’t heard of the journal or conference check Beall’s list or ask your local librarian
  • Don’t believe the web site – ask your colleagues and look at indicators of journal impact. A library’s guide to Increasing your research impact with information on Journal measures and tools can help you
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails – choose the journals you wish to submit to.

If in doubt contact your local Library or Research Office.

The Australasian Open Access Support Group is committed to supporting quality open access publishing and will continue to provide information through this web site and in our twitter, newsletters and discussion list.

Roxanne Missingham, University Librarian (Chief Scholarly Information Services), The Australian National University, Canberra.

7 thoughts on “How researchers can protect themselves from publishing and conference scams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s