My father has worked as an academic chemist for more than 50 years, publishing a large number of papers and working all over the world. Over this time, the academic publishing industry has changed dramatically: Back in the day, you’d write up a paper longhand, get it typed up in the department office, and then submit it through the post to a journal’s editorial office. Even I am old enough to remember the days when figures and tables were prepared using press-on letters and a stencil kit; photo-plate images comprised cut-out photographs covered with foil that were packed into padded envelopes before being sent off in the mail. We used to walk over to our university library once a week to see which new journals had arrived for us to read.
Everything is now online, of course, and there continues to be a strong move towards open access (OA) in both research generally and in academic publishing in particular. Rather than being subscription-based, large numbers of journals are now ‘author-centric’. Authors may pay an article processing charge (APC) following peer review and acceptance, after which their work is freely available for download to all.
Putting the onus on authors in this way, however, has also led to a proliferation of so-called ‘predatory’ journals: Very tempting and very official-sounding outlets that will publish your work at a price. Outlets with little, or no, established reputation (and hence none of the standard benchmarks used for assessing academic papers, such as impact factors) that are only interested in taking your money in return for publishing an article.
How can early-career researchers (ECRs) or international authors looking to publish their work for perhaps the first time decide which journals are trustworthy and which are not? We can help.
My father called me the other day to ask me about an email he had just received inviting him to contribute to a journal’s upcoming special issue in his subject area. It came out of nowhere: What should he do? The offer seemed perfectly legitimate and a number of other very reputable colleagues were listed on the journal website as either contributors to this special issue or as editorial board members. There were just two problems: He’d never heard of this journal before and there was a publication fee, in this case more than $1,500. I get these emails too, sometimes two or three a week.
How can you tell which paid OA journals and genuine and which are predatory?
We teach effective journal selection as part of our Charlesworth Knowledge courses, aimed at helping you achieve your potential as a researcher. We also provide an independent journal selection service, working with subject experts to identify the best journals for your research, and in partnership with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
Useful initiatives like Think. Check. Submit. can help you build your list of trusted journals for your research and avoid unnecessary fees, predatory outlets, and other kinds of deceptive publishing. Why not get in touch with one of our team for more information.