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  Table of Contents  
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 653-654  

The scourge of predatory journals


1 Department of Surgery, SLBS Medical College, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India
2 Department of Radiodiagnosis, SLBS Medical College, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India
3 Department of Prosthodontics, Military Dental Center, Fategarh, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Rohan Bhoil
Department of Prosthodontics, Military Dental Center, Fategarh, Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_479_19

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How to cite this article:
Kumar R, Bhoil R, Bhoil R. The scourge of predatory journals. Indian Dermatol Online J 2020;11:653-4

How to cite this URL:
Kumar R, Bhoil R, Bhoil R. The scourge of predatory journals. Indian Dermatol Online J [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 3];11:653-4. Available from: http://www.idoj.in/text.asp?2020/11/4/653/289627



Dear Editor,

The article on the scourge of predatory journals and the enormous damage such journals are causing to the scientific community by Mondal et al.[1] is an eye-opener and rightly emphasizes the need for the various scientific and educational institutions and organizations to reconsider their methods of evaluation and assessment to check if they are actually encouraging submission to such journals.

According to the Collin's dictionary, the word “predatory” implies people or organizations that are eager to gain something out of someone else's weakness or suffering. Similarly, true to their literal meaning, predatory journals prey on young researchers or academicians for personal gain or financial profit through article-processing charges and publication fees, without meeting the standard publishing standards by exploiting the need of academicians and researchers to get their articles published just for the sake of publications to build their resume and CV and to gain employment, fund/grants for further research, and even promotions in their professional careers.[2] These journals allure naive researchers and budding academicians by promising them short and fat review cycles, ranging from days to weeks and assured publications on payment of fees.[3],[4]

One of the biggest reasons for such journals to flourish is that in most of the research institutions, there is usually more value for quantity over quality (of publications). Hiring and promotion of academics are based largely on the number of their publications.[3],[5] For the past 5–6 years, it has been a mandatory requirement for graduates and postgraduates to publish research articles to receive their degrees and to gain employment or even promotions in their professions. Although well-intended, this regulation has encouraged malpractices in the publication field. Thousands of researchers who are desperate for publication, along with ineffective monitoring, have led to the mushrooming of predatory journals. Peer review, which is atthe heart of academic evaluation, is invariably given a forgo by such journals while falsely pretending and assuring that peer review was done. This gives poor and mediocre academics a chance for jobs and promotions that should go to better qualified, deserving academicians.[2],[3],[4],[5]

To check the explosive growth of such journals, there is an urgent need for a critical review of the assessment and evaluation criteria used by institutions and universities to assess the academic performance of researchers.

One practical solution to curb this menace can be to have a well-maintained list of predatory journals that need to be reviewed from time to time. Such a list can be at the level of organization/institution or better at a central level, and it should be regularly updated by experts in their respective fields. This list should be widely circulated among all the researchers, and there should be a stringent criterion that no credit shall be provided for publishing papers in the journals included in the list maintained—be it for extension of tenure, promotion, or for job consideration. If strictly adhered to, this single step will ensure that researchers do not fall prey to such predators and will not resort to unethical research practices that lead to “pay and publish trash” culture and will effectively put such predatory journals “out of business.” This will also encourage the researchers to focus only on quality research and help in producing better academicians and ultimately, benefit the scientific community in general.

Recently, many medical journals of repute simultaneously published an editorial regarding the revised guidelines of the Medical Council of India for academic promotions in which the various ambiguities in the revised guidelines were pointed out and possible corrective measures suggested.[4] One of which was the role of indexing agencies. To check the predatory journals, only the journals indexed in reputable databases like PubMed, Medline, Embase, Science Citation Index, etc.should be considered.

In addition, the members of the faculty; thesis/study guides; and senior, experienced researchers in the department can play a very important role in checking this menace. They may put in place a method to inform/educate the students and junior researchers about the harmful effect of publishing in these predatory journals and motivate them to avoid getting involved in these unethical practices. If at all, any student/researcher tries to get his/her work published in such a journal, appropriate action should be taken against the person concerned. Further, they can bring to the knowledge of their colleagues about a predatory journal once it is identified. Most importantly, all should ensure that they do not contribute to such journals by becoming their editors/reviewers or by writing for them.

Another important thing to reconsider is the type of article accepted. The recent trend has been only to consider original articles while other forms of original research like review articles, brief communications, and case series/reports are not given credit.[4],[5] A better alternative will be to consider various articles that are published in reputable databases/indexed journals and have a point system for different types of such articles. This will ensure that more stress will be given to the journal in which the article is published than on the type of article at the same time giving due credit to different article types.

Strict action by the appropriate authorities should also be taken against journals that falsely claim abstracting/indexing in various reputed indexing agencies like PubMed, Medline, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or Web of Science by mimicking their logo and posting it on their webpage, even when they are not indexed with any of these.[3] There is also a need for providing the researchers and academicians good guidance on selecting journals in which to publish.[2],[3],[4],[5]

It is sincerely hoped that the points raised here and in the article [1] will realize the need for rethinkingthe various assessment and evaluation criteria used by institutions and universities to assess the academic performance of researchers so as to check and curb this growing menace of predatory journals that is causing momentous harm to the scientific community.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Mondal H, Mondal S. Pressure to publish: Index copernicus and predatory journals are helping (?) academicians. Indian Dermatol Online J 2019;10:332-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
2.
Aponte J. Predatory publishing and organizers: What scholars in Academia need to know. Hisp Health Care Int2018;16:54-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Beall J. Dangerous predatory publishers threaten medical research.J Korean Med Sci2016;31:1511-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Aggarwal R, Gogtay N, Kumar R, Sahni P, editors; Indian Association of Medical Journal Editors. The revised guidelines of the medical council of India for academic promotions: Need for a rethink.J Family Med Prim Care2015;4:483-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
5.
Bhoil R, Bhoil R, Thakur K, Mistry KA, Ahluwalia A. “Need for a rethink:” Questions raised by the “clarifications” issued by the medical council of India for academic promotions. J Family Med Prim Care 2017;6:695-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  




 

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