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Predatory publishing: Understanding predatory publishing

What is predatory publishing?

Predatory publishing is an unethical scholarly practice that exploits the "author-pays" publishing model to earn revenue.  

The ultimate goal of predatory publishing is monetary gain, not the promotion and preservation of the scholarly record.

Who are predatory publishers?

They are the publishers that seem to operate as legitimate scholarly journals but use unethical business practices to publish as many papers as possible with little or no consideration of the quality and preservation of the scholarly record. 

They charge authors publication fees without providing proper peer review and editorial  services offered by legitimate scholarly journals.

NOTE: Not all predatory publishers are deliberately exploitative. Some low-credibility or amateurish publishers that provide no or a superficial amount of peer-review have also been identified as predatory publishers.

Whom do they typically target?

  • Early-career researchers who are eager to gain scholarly presentation and publication experience
  • Researchers who are under pressure to publish in order to meet grant funding requirements
  • Academics who need to publish their works within the shortest time possible in order to meet deadlines for tenure, promotion, or other rewards
  • Authors who already published their work in predatory journals
  • Authors of theses and dissertations 

Why is predatory publishing harmful?

  • Threatens the integrity of scholarly communication
  • Results in loss of knowledge (predatory journals could disappear  at any time and with them could disappear all previously published research)
  • Corrupts the open access publishing model
  • Encourages the unethical behavior of authors who seek to publish research of questionable quality and plagiarized or self-plagiarized work 
  • Hurts researcher's academic credibility and career advancement

Predatory publishing illustrated


Illustration by Dušan Petričić