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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 86-89  

An insight into predatory journals

1 Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist, BAHAWA House of Dental Care, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Postgraduate Student, Department of Prosthodontics, Government Dental College and Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission22-May-2019
Date of Decision14-Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance10-Feb-2020
Date of Web Publication16-Mar-2020

Correspondence Address:
Vikas Jaysing Pawar
BAHAWA House of Dental Care, Handewadi, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_249_19

Rights and Permissions

The impact of scholarly journals has increased with invent of Internet due to improved access, faster dissemination, and ease of searching a variety of publications. With the increasing trend of research, open access (OA) publishing has increased intensely over the last few years. The core intent of OA is faster dissemination of research by making it available to readers free of cost. However, some publishers exploited this novel idea for their own benefit. Beall termed them as predatory publishers/journals. In this article, authors have made efforts to understand the predatory publishers/journal, reasons behind their upsurge, their modus operandi, their common targets, and the points which will help readers to identify them. The aim of this article is to expose facts behind the predatory journal and to create awareness among not only budding researchers but also faculty members, authors, and editors about the threat predatory journals carry toward scientific world and to their own curricula.

Keywords: Open access journals, predatory journals, predatory publishers

How to cite this article:
Pawar VJ, Jawade J. An insight into predatory journals. Indian J Public Health 2020;64:86-9

How to cite this URL:
Pawar VJ, Jawade J. An insight into predatory journals. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 8];64:86-9. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Journals guides evidence-based clinical practice and circulates evolving facts, new policies, and information.[1] Doctors and researchers publish their research work in a journal so that it can be accessible to other scholars in the same or related specialty. Ultimately, this knowledge is used for well-being of society.[2] This is how literature affects the health of society. Scholarly journals can be categorized either as a paid access (PA) or an open access (OA).[3] To access articles published in PA journals, readers require to pay for an article, or a subscription to the journal. On the contrary, OA journals charge authors to publish but make the content freely available to the readers without any restrictions either immediately or with a delay of some specified amount of time.[4] With the increasing trend of scientific research, OA publishing has increased vividly over the last decade. OA journal can be 100% OA or hybrid models, i.e., with both traditional and open-access articles.[5] The core intent of OA was to make research available to everyone quickly and freely. However since the last few years, this novel idea got exploited in the face of predatory journals/publishers.

   What Are Predatory Journals/publishers? Top

Jeffrey Beall coined the term “predatory journals,” who maintained a list called “Beall's list” of potential predatory journals.[6] Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, it was closed in January 2017.[7] Since then, it is maintained by some anonymous postdoctoral researcher in one of the European universities at[8] Beall defined predatory publishers/journals as “those publishers/journals that unprofessionally abuse the author-pays publishing model for their own profit.”[6] Although predatory journals claim to be OA, they are rarely indexed in genuine and reputable databases.[9] The predatory journals provide speedy publication, considering their weak peer review, lack of editorial oversight, and plagiarism protection in exchange for hefty publication fees.[1] They are adulterating the quality of research by mortifying the peer-review process, which is often absent or minimal.[10]

Bhad et al. stated in their article the types of predatory publishing as,[11]

  1. Direct author payment model: openly asks money for smooth publication
  2. Post hoc author payment model: they donot reveal article processing fees in the initial phase. They ask for money only after publication and if denied may threaten to withdraw the publication
  3. Allied journal payment model: authors are requested to submit a paper to a free journal which is rejected in short time, subsequent an e-mail suggesting and assuring publication in another sister journal is sent which charges a hefty article processing fees
  4. Author remuneration model: They invite researchers to become guest editors and asks them to invite fellow researchers and scholars to submit a paper. Guest editor might get a free publication, but others have to pay hefty charges
  5. Fraudulent model: They take money and do not publish the article.

   Modus Operandi of Predatory Journals Top

The first and foremost prerequisite for predatory journals is to look credible.[12] To achieve that, they take the following measures.

They have a prestigious sounding title. For example, the title begins with “The International Journal of (TOPIC),” “The American Journal of (TOPIC),” “The British Journal of (TOPIC).” Furthermore, their websites are designed very similarly to those of legitimate journals of the same specialties.[2] Their website frequently flags notifications like “call for paper.”[11] They even display names of reputed researchers and authors as their editorial members without their knowledge and consent. These journals claim their headquarters in countries such as the USA, UK, and Canada, but most of them are located in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, and Malaysia.[6],[11],[12] They even try to get PubMed access by purchasing journals that are already PubMed indexed.[1]

After achieving pseudo-credibility, the predatory journal's target is to catch a prey whereby an e-mail is sent to various authors stating something similar to: “We read with interest your recent article on (topic) and would like to invite you to submit an article on a similar topic to our journal.”[7] They promise quick publication in a few weeks and charge hefty article processing fees. Most of them do not disclose the article processing charges until the article is published.[11] Primarily defective/opaque peer review is the core foundation of the predatory journal, where many scientific papers with faulty results can get accepted.[11]

   Why We Should Be Worried? Top

Dr. John Bohannon tested the peer review integrity of 304 suspected journals by purposely submitting a faulty scientific paper describing anticancer properties of wonder drug extracted from a lichen. Any responsible peer-review journal should have rejected such defective paper which is not up to the mark and have plagiarism, but over half of the journals accepted it.[13] This states the extent of predatory journal destroying the biomedical science. The articles published in the predatory journal are not discoverable through standard searches and thus, experienced academicians and systematic reviewers will be cautious of citing anything from these journals. The research is thus lost.[14] At the same time, due to the lack of digital preservation, many of these journals can vanish at any time leading to loss of content.[2]

As the results obtained from good quality peer-reviewed research are used for new treatment strategies, formulating guidelines and overall public health, corrupt science in the face of predatory journals can affect both clinical research as well as clinical practice.[9],[11]

Another reason to worry is the flourishing growth of predatory publishers. According to Beall, predatory publishers are increased from 18 in 2011 to 923 in 2016.[1]

   Why Indians Have to Worry More Than Anyone Else? Top

As India is developing country research in India is largely in nascent stages, which makes it more vulnerable. Besides, Indian authors are one of the world's prominent contributors to predatory journals,[15] and the majority of the world's predatory publishers are located in India.[13],[15]

Being one of the most populated countries in the world and unemployment at its peak, there is growing competition in every field in India which makes researchers desperate for publishing their research. Hence, they choose the easy way and publish in predatory journals. Few corrupt souls made a fortune out of this unfortunate situation by exploiting this desperate situation of researchers by providing the medium in the face of predatory journals to publish their research. This way India becomes both culprit and victim at the same time.

   What Are the Reasons behind Their Upsurge? Top

The members of medical and dental faculty are constantly under pressure of “publish or perish.”[1] During the decisions of the post, promotions and academic upgradation of faculty both the quantity and quality of publications should be given considerations. However, it is very subjective and challenging to ascertain the quality of publications, the number of publications frequently becomes a primary criterion of academic efficiency and overall impact.[1] This is one of the main reasons for the rise of predatory journals. To survive in the competitive academic world researchers are taking unethical shortcuts and paying for the publication of plagiarized or self-plagiarized work. The ease of online publishing and the OA movement are other reasons.[16]

   Who Are the Victims? Top

Budding researchers who are unaware of the predatory journals and who are in desperate need of publication to get breakthrough in career and promotions are the easy target for predatory journals.[9] However, at the same time, experienced authors who are fully aware of the nature of the journal also publish in such journals to boost their Curriculum Vitae (CV).[7] Either way, the public are the ultimate victims. The public is vulnerable because young untrained readers have limited capability to assess the legitimacy of an article's conclusions.[7] Sometimes, experienced scientists unknowingly got trapped by these journals and they joined as editors. They came to know about the real nature of these journals only after spotting some irregularities or by their hefty article processing fees.[10]

   How to Tackle This Issue? Top

Collective effort is required to tackle this issue. The first and foremost, the important step is to make aware scholars, researchers, clinicians, and scientists about the predatory journals and the threat they carry toward scientific fraternity and to their own curricula.[9] Academicians should be trained and their digital skills should be improved to identify a predatory journal and a low-quality article. Research institutes in developing countries like India must work hard and set new policies to improve publication literacy, especially among budding researchers. All medical graduates and postgraduates should be provided with basic knowledge of medical informatics. The institutes and guides should insist on submitting research paper to legitimate journals only.[14] Researchers should repel the temptation to publish speedily and easily in such journals.[2] Researchers should refrain themselves from citing articles published in predatory journals.[9] Academic libraries should dismiss metadata for such publications and eliminate predatory publishers from their online catalogs. Moreover, established scholarly databases should identify and remove journals and publishers which are not legitimate.[9] Scientific social networks should be used to recognize and share information on illusive publishers and journals.[9] During promotion and tenure decisions committees should emphasize more on the quality of publications than quantity.[1] Efforts of predatory journals to achieve PubMed access should be repulsed.[1] Publishers should also use their platform to help identify nonindexed or faulty publications.[7] Finally, federal agencies (e.g., National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine; science, technology, and medicine content aggregators) should be active in formulating various policies to combat the attack of predatory journals.[7]

   Authors Should Be Cautious of Submitting an Article to a Journal If Top

  • Publisher promises publishing in astonishingly short time maybe a few hours or weeks which is obviously very fast than a standard peer-review process[11]
  • Esteemed and lengthy journal name frequently starting with “international journal of…., British journal of…”[6],[7]
  • Often sends solicitation mails to naïve researchers praising about their previous articles published in the past[6]
  • Lacks proper organization associated with the journal[11]
  • Contact information such as address and contact number of the head office are missing, or if given then either it is incomplete or wrong/questionable[6]
  • Any doubt or irregularities regarding the editorial board and their full affiliations
  • Unprofessional layout with substantial grammatical or typographical errors[6]
  • In spite of being in earlier issues and less publications, websites flagging high impact factor. (Journals receive impact factor usually after 2 years of publishing)[11],[12]
  • Hides policies of publication fees and charges heavily for article processing fee[2]
  • Gives assurance of a high rate of acceptance of articles[11]
  • Improper or fake ISSN number[2]
  • Quality of previously published papers in the journal is not up to the mark or any doubt regarding the credibility of the study.[2]

All this typical features of the predatory journal must be kept in mind before selecting the right journal for publication. Author should check beall's list at:[8] There is another useful list of legitimate OA journals, the directory of OA journals, authors should check this list too.[14] All this will preserve genuine hard work researchers are doing to get breakthrough in their career.

   Conclusion Top

Exponential growth of predatory journals and publishers are big concern. They are polluting academic science by tarnishing the OA model and the peer-review process. To curb this menace of predatory journals collective effort from all academicians, researchers, research institutions, mentors, academic libraries, and federal agencies are required. Boycotting these journals and work published in them will help to raise the standard of research and will break the flourishing market of predatory publishers and might force them in dormant stage.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Harvey HB, Weinstein DF. Predatory publishing: An emerging threat to the medical literature. Acad Med 2017;92:150-1.  Back to cited text no. 1
Danevska L, Spiroski M, Donev D, Pop-Jordanova N, Polenakovic M. How to recognize and avoid potential, possible, or probable predatory open-access publishers, standalone, and Hijacked Journals. Pril (Makedon Akad Nauk Umet Odd Med Nauki) 2016;37:5-13.  Back to cited text no. 2
Van Nuland SE, Rogers KA. Academic nightmares: Predatory publishing. Anat Sci Educ 2017;10:392-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Shen C, Björk BC. Predatory' open access: A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Med 2015;13:230.  Back to cited text no. 4
Anthony M. Predatory journals. Home Healthc Now 2015;33:65-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Beall J. Medical publishing triage – Chronicling predatory open access publishers. Ann Med Surg (Lond) 2013;2:47-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
Basford JR, Heinemann AW. Predatory publishing in rehabilitation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2017;98:1057-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers; 2018. Available from: [Last accessed on 2018 Nov 27].  Back to cited text no. 8
Manca A, Martinez G, Cugusi L, Dragone D, Mercuro G, Deriu F. Predatory open access in rehabilitation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2017;98:1051-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
Bartholomew RE. Science for sale: The rise of predatory journals. J R Soc Med 2014;107:384-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
Bhad R, Hazari N. Predatory journals in psychiatry: A note of caution. Asian J Psychiatr 2015;16:67-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
Byard RW. The forensic implications of predatory publishing. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 2016;12:391-3.  Back to cited text no. 12
Bohannon J. Who's afraid of peer review? Science 2013;342:60-5.  Back to cited text no. 13
Clark J, Smith R. Firm action needed on predatory journals. BMJ 2015;350:h210.  Back to cited text no. 14
Xia J, Harmon JL, Connolly KG, Donnelly RM, Anderson MR, Howard HA. Who publishes in predatory journals? J Assoc Inf Sci Technol 2015;66:1406-17.  Back to cited text no. 15
Al-Khatib A. Protecting authors from predatory journals and publishers. Publishing Res Q 2016;32:281-5.  Back to cited text no. 16

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