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Why do researchers publish in predatory journals?

An investigation into predatory publishing has shown that, despite efforts to stop this exploitative business, its impact on mainstream publishing is still increasing globally.

Cabells, a scholarly analytics company which maintains databases of both reputable and predatory journals, collaborated with CIBER Research to better understand how researchers select journals and their knowledge of predatory journals. Their large study, involving both researchers and intermediaries (such as librarians and research managers), focused on China, India, the Middle East and North Europe.

The study found that:

  • Predatory publishing is still commonplace globally: 49% of intermediaries surveyed knew someone in their organisation who had published in a predatory journal. The figure was 47% among researchers.
  • Researchers and intermediaries believed that researchers publish in predatory journals often due to the pressure to publish work quickly (58% and 40%, respectively) or to help gain a promotion (59% and 39%, respectively). However, a lack of awareness that journals were predatory was by far the most frequent reason, cited by 73% of researchers and 72% of intermediaries.
  • Researchers primarily rely on their own experience for journal selection, with 31% using journal databases. Librarians believed in education, training, and using resources like Think, Check, Submit to help researchers better understand how to recognise predatory journals.
  • Journal safelists were common on a national or institutional level, but in many cases, they were not used often.

The authors do note that, particularly in countries with a known predatory publishing problem, policies are being implemented to reduce predatory publishing, such as providing alternative publishing outlets and de-emphasising metric-based career progression policies. We look forward to learning if these changes prove to be successful.


Summary by Robyn Foster PhD from Aspire Scientific


With thanks to our sponsor, Aspire Scientific Ltd

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