Predatory journals are a hot topic among publishing professionals, however the issue is now becoming more widely known outside of academic circles. A recent article in the New York Times discusses the reasons why scientists may knowingly choose to publish in a predatory journal and proposes that the relationship is becoming less “predator-and-prey” and more of a “new and ugly symbiosis”.
There are now almost as many predatory journals in existence as legitimate journals, with hundreds of thousands of articles having been published to date. Some experts now suggest that it is unlikely that all of the scientists publishing in these journals have been tricked into doing so. Indeed, the New York Times article suggests that many authors are eager participants. But why, when it is widely acknowledged that publishing in predatory journals puts scientific credibility at risk, are some so keen to do so?
In some academic institutions where teaching load is heavy and research resources scarce, but the pressure to publish is still strong, predatory journals may seem like an ideal solution. And when publications are so key to career prospects, publishing anywhere and as frequently as possible may be very tempting. However, institutions are beginning to become wise to this tactic, with some screening researchers’ publications lists to see if the journals used are legitimate. Perhaps a wider awareness of the issues surrounding publication in predatory journals will encourage scientists to shun this practice.