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Editorial Snapshot: Overestimated threat of predatory journals

- G.A., Senior Editor

The growth of predatory journals and predatory publishers has raised significant concern among scientists. Outrage over journals that will publish any manuscript for a fee led some scientists to list predatory journals in an effort to warn other scientists.

Despite both a growing number of predatory journals and increasing concern over their potential impact on science, little research has been conducted on what damage such journals are doing. However, researchers from Finland recently conducted an analysis of 1,000 manuscripts published in predatory journals to evaluate their impact.

Their results indicate that as predatory journals tend to have very limited readerships and are cited infrequently, they do not appear to have much of an impact on the larger scientific community. Interestingly, the researchers noted that among the manuscripts in their sample, approximately 60% had not been cited at all. Thus, simply publishing research does not seem to attract readers the way that publishing high-quality research would.

Although these findings indicate that manuscripts published in predatory journals do not necessarily damage the wider scientific community, the authors point out that predatory journals have harmed the spread of open access publishing. Authors looking to submit to a journal have been more inclined to submit to traditional publishers out of fear of being taken advantage of by a predatory journal. This fact alone suggests that all scientists should continue to be concerned about the threat of predatory journals and publishers.

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