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Editorial Snapshot: How to protect yourself in the continuing fight against predatory journals

- A.S., Editor

Predatory journals and publishers are an ongoing threat to the integrity of the academic community. Although the existence of predatory journals is well-known, exactly what defines such an entity has been difficult to describe. The term “predatory publisher” has been used since 2010, but it was not until the end of 2019 that a consensus definition was reached. According to a group of prominent researchers and publishers from multiple countries, “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.”

With this definition, organizations and scholars hope to move forward in addressing the problem of predatory journals. However, as a systematic safeguard still does not exist, authors must take it upon themselves to stay informed and alert. Predatory journals may not always be easily identifiable by the obviously bad faith practices put forth in the above definition, and in particular, false or misleading information can be difficult to recognize. For example, one tactic employed by predatory journals is the intentional use of a name that is similar to a more well-known journal.

This year, the well-reputed publishing company Wiley, one of the world’s largest publishers of academic research, put out a notification regarding one of its journals which was targeted by this ploy. Authors were cautioned to be aware of the existence of a newly launched journal named The Journal of Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research, since it may be mistaken for the Wiley-owned journal, Orthodontics & Craniofacial Research. Gavin Publishers, the publisher of the newer journal, was also purportedly soliciting research from regular contributors to the Wiley journal.

Mistaken submissions to the wrong publisher can result in the loss of both submission fees and the manuscript, as research is typically not permitted to be under consideration by multiple publishers simultaneously. To avoid such losses, authors are strongly encouraged to review the validity of their chosen journal carefully. To facilitate this process, lists of the names of predatory journals have been collected, and there also exist checklists of cautionary points to be aware of, but unfortunately neither of these can be considered comprehensive countermeasures. Until more effective ways of combating predatory journals are developed, authors must always take care to stay on guard against new predatory journals and the deceitful tactics used by them.

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