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The hunter or the hunted: why do authors publish in predatory journals?


  • Unawareness and unethical motivations are the main reasons authors cite for publishing in predatory journals.
  • Proposed strategies to combat predatory publishing include improving education on publication ethics, creating new, credible publishing platforms, enhancing accountability through open peer review, and tightening regulation of journal recommendation lists.

Predatory journals are a deep-rooted issue in open access publishing, contributing an estimated 420,000 articles in 2014 alone. Despite their widespread presence, the motivations that drive authors toward these journals remain largely unknown. The topic is explored in Chapter 7 of Simon Linacre’s book, The Predator Effect: Understanding the Past, Present and Future of Deceptive Academic Journals. An excerpt from the chapter is available on Retraction Watch.

A review of the limited literature on author motivations highlighted 2 main reasons authors opt for predatory journals:

  • lack of awareness about a journal’s dubious reputation
  • unethical motivations, including incentives tied to career advancement and disillusionment with traditional academic publishing.

Studies looking at why authors might be tempted to engage with predatory publishers identified several factors that likely influence their decisions.

One proposed strategy to tackle the problem is to educate researchers about the issues with predatory journals and review how incentives can tempt authors to publish in them. Other recommendations include:

Linacre suggests that third-party help may also be needed to support academic authors in successful research publication.


What do you think – would providing further support and improved publication ethics education to academic authors reduce the number publishing in predatory journals?

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