Predatory publishing is now considered as the biggest threat to the integrity of science and research. It operates nowadays in a very sophisticated way; it uses bogus websites that mimic legitimate mainstream journals and evolves to organizing predatory conferences. Predatory journals are those that tend to publish low-quality science and have no standard editorial or peer-review process. Papers can get digitally published within 72 hours upon submission provided that one is willing to pay the enormous author’s processing charges.
Junior scholars who are preparing to climb the career ladder are under the pressure of “publish or perish” academic culture and are more likely to fall victim to these unscrupulous pay-to-publish platforms.
But the true challenge lies in how to protect the academics from this sham practice that is polluting the science and research culture.
“Practice self-regulation and review at the level of discipline,” underscored UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel R. Nemenzo during the NRCP’s lecture on Choosing the Right Journal for your Research held last May 4, 2021. This lecture is part of NRCP’s capacity development initiative through its National S&T Expert’s Pool (NSTEP)program aimed at benefitting early-career member-researchers of the Council through mentoring.
Dr. Nemenzo, Chair of NRCP Division of Mathematical Sciences, explained that protection of academics against predatory journals and conferences must come from and be enforced at the institutional level by discipline.
“Your institution at the level of discipline must be the one to police journals and conferences that are potentially predatory, and must be able to compile and release the list of legitimate journals where you can select to publish your research work,” explained Nemenzo.
Clearly, the scientific community must develop a policy that would define what is legitimate and what is predatory.
In a paper published in the Journal of Criminal Justice Education, the authors who surveyed young academics found that majority (95%) reported that their institutions did not have a specific policy relative to publishing in predatory journals, and that 97% responded that their university, college, or department did not have a predatory journal list.
Without this policy set in place in the institutions, predatory journals and publishers will continue to exist and prey on authors especially that they are put under pressure, publications being a measure of academic and research performance.
Dr. Nemenzo also suggested that authors should not be wary about citations but to focus more on the quality of their work and how they can benefit the community and help in the improvement of their field as a whole. He added that collegial relationship can help a lot to increase awareness among the academics within discipline, “discuss with your colleagues if something looks fishy.”
Academics in the international community argue that institutions should not adopt the quantity of publications as a measure of academic performance, and should look for other performance indicators. They also highlight that there is a strong connection between the “publish or perish” culture and the decreasing quality of published research.
Dr. Nemenzo also shared practical tips on how spot predatory journals and publishers and how to avoid them. These are:
- Be wary of e-mail invitations from dubious publishers to submit to journals or to join journal editorials
- Check all background information about the journal, ISSN, editorial board members. Check if they collect huge author’s fees
- Verify if claimed impact factor is correct
- Check the publisher’s website for typos or grammatical errors, dead URL links, and boastful claims
- Check if the journal is a member of publishing industry associations, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (doaj.org) or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (www.oaspa.org)
- Read archived journal articles and assess their quality
The lecture was partnered by a talk on the Open Access Journals: Pros and Cons by Academician Raymond G. Tan, NRCP member of the Division of Engineering and Industrial Research, and is a Research Fellow from De La Salle University. The talk discussed the newest trends on open access publishing. These lectures are part of the pilot stage of NRCP’s capacity development and strengthening program that focuses on critical academic publication concerns. The next phase shall provide practical guides on improving research networking and expanding collaboration.