Scientific publishing is one of the pillars of science, propagating all the information in the world of science. The state of scientific publishing in digital age has gone through radical transition allowing multiple advantages. The same period has also seen rise of a hazardous trend called predatory publishing which is infecting the industry and diminishing the credibility of scientific journals. This corrupt and money-grubbing practice pretends to operate in the frame of open access publishing – a movement established to make scholarly publications freely available – whereas in reality authors are charged a fortune as publication fee, albeit they provide free access to the readers. Predatory journals entirely lack the ethics and credibility of scientific publishing, they publish almost anything for money, they provide little or no peer review (which is at the heart of academic evaluation) and the editorial board is often non-existent, the editors they display on their website are often bogus names or any professional without the standing of a journal editor
Predatory journals form a massive portion of all the scientific journals published worldwide, and they mostly originate from developing countries. Predatory journals prey on vulnerable researchers, they use sweeping marketing tactics, bombarding academics with emails akin to credit card campaigns, luring them into publishing in their journals and offering opportunities to attend conferences – even the conferences are reported to be bogus, in which the hired speakers have no real credits to them. They try to lure the authors by claiming that they are indexed in Google Scholar, but is Google Scholar the authority in scientific publishing, or does it vet all the journals it indexes?
Predatory journals operate under the guise of open access publishing, an industry which attributes its success to free access of genuine and peer reviewed content they provide to libraries and readers, following the guidelines provided by Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association. Predatory journals are but a dubious enterprise, often bearing names resembling to the established ones eg, Journal of Economics and Finance, published by Springer, has its dubious copy in Journal of Finance and Economics. There is the Journal of Engineering Technology, from American Society for Engineering Education, and also its shady version called the GSTF Journal of Engineering Technology. This deceit, and the fierce marketing campaign with the promise of instant and easy publishing, does it seduce academics into believing them? Or is it an ugly symbiosis – with the knowledge of the reality to both the parties – that thrives on academics’ dire needs to get published?
Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado was the first to report about the alarming establishment of predatory journals, Beall argued that “the act of instituting financial transactions between scholarly authors and scholarly publishers is corrupting scholarly communication. This was one of the great benefits of the traditional scholarly publishing system – it had no monetary component in the relationship between publishers and their authors. Adding the monetary component has created the problem of predatory publishers and the problem of financing author fees.” Beall has published a list of potentially predatory journals which can be referred to by authors who don’t want their work to end up in a spurious journal and get trapped in the underworld forever.
Despite the knowledge the trend is flourishing, and there are universities and colleges who turn a blind eye to this grim reality. Predatory publishing hurts scientific communication in multiple ways. Most of the money that goes into scientific research is public money via research grants, when papers of low quality are published, public money is wasted. It hurts many industries, like healthcare, who rely heavily on scientific research, communicated through journals, a misleading information could be hazardous. It hurts science enthusiasts by providing wrong information. As it grows it tentacles and further integrates itself with the legit science publication, when more of its papers are cited for future researches, it decays true science.