Predatory publishers are
psychologists and other
By Jeffrey Beall, DSc,
and James M. DuBois, PhD
email to solicit research manuscripts, which they quickly accept and publish
in their many online open-access journals. Though they claim to peer review
articles, many conduct no peer review at all or carry out a minimalist or
pro forma review, accepting and publishing flawed manuscripts that most
legitimate journals would reject.
Predatory journals are supported by fees charged to authors upon
acceptance of their manuscripts, and their goal is profit. The journals want
to accept and publish as many manuscripts as possible to increase their
revenue. This income strategy conflicts with peer review, which, when done
properly, often results in manuscripts being denied publication.
Predatory publishers have fooled many honest scholars into believing
that they are legitimate. Experts at mimicking respected publishing houses,
they use sophisticated spam techniques, pandering to researchers through
personalized spam that praises a researcher’s earlier work while inviting a
new submission. Other spam emails appeal to authors needing to publish in
journals that have earned an impact factor. Companies now exist that supply
fake impact factors to questionable journals, metrics they then display in
their spam email advertising.
Problems caused by predatory publishing
Predatory publishing harms the scientific community in numerous ways.
First, authors may be misled into investing their money and intellectual
capital in a journal that they think is high impact and stable when it is
neither. Some predatory online publications exist for very short periods of
time and are rarely cited in journals that are indexed by reputable databases.
Second, predatory publishing has created a substantial body of published
literature that is branded as science, but has not passed through adequate peer
review, which is a primary form of quality control. For many readers, reporters
and the public, the distinction between authentic and junk science is not
readily discernable, yet these publications are readily accessible by anyone.
Compounding the problem, comprehensive academic indexes such as
Google Scholar routinely index the junk science, mingling it with authentic
So just imagine the joy psychologists might
experience upon receiving an email from a
journal (with a name very similar to a respectable
APA journal) that invites them personally to
submit a paper for a forthcoming issue. The
journal promises peer review within one week
and publication within two weeks. Imagine
further that the journal claims to have a high
impact factor, partly due to the fact that its
content is freely available worldwide.
As the old adage goes: If it sounds too good
to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, there
is a high likelihood that such an invitation has
been sent by a “predatory publisher.” While
these publishers initially focused on biomedical
sciences, a growing number now target
psychologists and social scientists.
What are predatory publishers?
Predatory publishers are counterfeit scholarly
publishers that aim to trick honest researchers
into thinking they are legitimate. They use spam