The word “predator” suggests fangs and claws, but unfortunately, predatory journals are not so easy to spot. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, these tricky publications are as threatening as they are clever. In 2010, the term “predatory journal” was coined, and since then, the Academic community has been working to warn researchers about the consequences of publishing in these unethical journals. But how can Academics properly educate each other about something that has no real definition, and what exactly should researchers be looking out for? Luckily, Springer Nature has some answers.
Predatory journals are not a new practice. Academics are aware that a journal is considered predatory when it shows no ethical standards and produces shoddy “research” pieces yet advertises itself as a vetted and honest publication. But a clear definition was needed; thus, alongside a group of 43 leading research societies and publishers from 10 different countries, Springer Nature tackled predatory journals. After hours of discussion, these Academic powerhouses finally landed on the following definition: “Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”
Having this official definition for predatory journals is important in creating a complete understanding of what they are. Now that researchers have a clear definition for reference, they can better prepare themselves and know exactly what to look out for when searching for somewhere to submit their research.
The REAPPRAISED Checklist
Knowing what classifies as a predatory journal is key in protecting yourself from falling victim, but predatory publications are masters of disguise and have quite a few tricks to make themselves seem legitimate. Springer Nature sympathizes with the struggle, and as a result created the REAPPRAISED Checklist. This mnemonic device outlines key questions to ask yourself when you are not so sure about an Academic journal.
- Research Governance – Is the research transparent? Are the following factors, funding, dates, and study methods, clearly outlined and consistent?
- Ethics – Has this publication been approved by an accredited committee?
- Authorship – Do the authors meet the criteria for publication, and can the authors vouch for the reliability of the paper?
- Productivity – Does the volume of work in relation to the reported staff for the study seem possible?
- Plagiarism – Does the publication exhibit any evidence of plagiarism?
- Research Conduct – Could the study have been conducted, completed, and put in writing within the stated time frame?
- Analysis and Methods – Is the analysis and methodology thorough and consistent, and has the analysis been correctly reported?
- Image Manipulation – Does the publisher or journal use images that seem like they have been edited or duplicated?
- Statistics and Data – Is the research data possible and plausible?
- Errors – Are there any areas that are incorrect, such as calculations, results, or grammar?
- Data Duplication and Reporting – Have the data or figures been published anywhere else, and if so, is this explained?
Understanding what a predatory journal is and knowing exactly what to look out for are key in preventing yourself from being tricked by these unethical publications. But is that easier said than done? eContent Pro is happy to provide researchers with a journal database of accredited and up-to-date journals at no cost. Once you’ve gotten an idea of what you’re looking for, check out our journal recommendation service, which provides you with in-depth profiles of accredited and current journals that closely match your manuscript for submission. Rest easy, and let the experts find you the perfect journals to publish through!
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