“Black sheep” in the science system
It would not be possible to publicize scientists and the results of their scientific research without publications and conferences. The scientific responsibility for conferences is often in the hands of specialist societies. In the publishing system, both small and large scientific publishers have been well-established partners for publishing journals and books for many decades. The emergence of the open access movement has led to the development of publishers whose open access journals appear only in electronic form and which are in no way inferior to well-established publishers in many cases. In addition to these new and reputable publishers, however, there are also a number of “black sheep” – publishers that simply want to make a quick profit. The scientific quality and professionalism of these “predatory publishers” are more than questionable.
Through various methods, scientists are often tricked into submitting contributions or participating in conferences. This is why the Central Library has compiled some important information on the topic and consolidated it into checklists that you can use to check up on journals and conferences.
Publishing in a predatory journal or participating in a predatory conference can result in a number of the disadvantages listed below. In any case, scientists’ reputations suffer when their work is published or presented in an obscure and dubious environment.
- Bait offers: Predatory publishers lure scientists with the promise of a good peer review or the guarantee of publication or a conference contribution. After accepting the article or abstract, they then charge high fees. The victims are often threatened with bills, payment reminders, or even lawsuits.
- Facts: Information about the journals or conferences on the publisher’s website is often false. For example, there are well-known names on the editorial board or the reviewer board, or on the list of participants – without the knowledge of the scientists in question. Information about print runs and participant numbers are exaggerated, the journal impact factor is invented or modified, or the index given is invented or questionable.
- Growth: Some predatory publishers establish journals within a few months or even in one day. The quality of the services promised, such as peer review, editing services, or visibility of the articles, is extremely questionable in view of such rapid growth. Conference organizers (purportedly) host over 1,000 conferences every year.
- Service: Predatory publishers leave many details open about their services or do not attempt to give any guarantees. For example, the peer review process or selection of talks are not traceable, a journal is published either irregularly or never, and the articles are not archived in the long term. The submitted articles are published very quickly, but mostly without any appropriate peer review or editorial services. In some cases, articles can be changed due to an incorrect layout.
- Title: Publishers use the titles of established and reputable journals and conferences, or make very slight changes to them. The websites are often almost indistinguishable from the real thing. They thus appear to provide the quality expected by scientists. The level of quality promised, with respect to editors, peer reviews, editing services, and distribution of the articles, is often not met. Cost and performance often bear no relation to each other.
- Rights: The publishers accept all submitted articles, but do not have any intention of publishing them. They are only interested in obtaining the publication rights to texts and pictures. If the authors wish to submit these articles to another journal, they have to pay for the article to be released.
- Time: Preparing articles and participating in conferences takes up the time of scientists. This time is lost if the selected journal or conference does not live up to the promises made.
- Submission fees: In some instances, a fee is incurred for even submitting an article or abstract.
- Fakes: Neither the services presented on the website nor the list of previous publications are real. The websites look professional but the information is non-existent or completely fake.
Forschungszentrum Jülich supports the open access movement. Predatory publishers are thus denied such support, since they do not satisfy the scientific standard and thereby ultimately harm science.
- Fees for the publication of articles in predatory journals are not covered by the Central Library’s publication fund.
- Furthermore, travel expenses incurred by the participation in predatory conferences are not covered by Human Resources.
Central Library’s advisory service
The Central Library monitors the market and helps to shape it for the benefit of Forschungszentrum Jülich. We provide advice on the acceptance of publishers and the range of titles. We also maintain a blacklist of predatory publishers and predatory conferences.
Services of the Central Library
The Central Library assumes responsibility for the processing of invoices for publication charges with the publishers, irrespective of whether the charges are covered by the Central Library or by the author’s cost centre.
For employees of Forschungszentrum Jülich, more information is available on the Intranet (ZB).