How serious is the problem?

A significant phenomenon

Predatory publishers and journals are not a minor problem. Many researchers are confronted with unsolicited emails from these fake publishing outlets, sometimes several times a day. Moreover, predatory outlets seriously undermine scientific integrity and legitimacy.

Despite these ongoing issues, there isn't actually a widely approved definition of predatory publishers and journals (Grudniewicz, Moher, et al., 2019). As a result, there are various reported quantitative estimations of the problem:

  • estimations of article volumes published in alleged predatory journal in 2014 vary between 255,000 (Crawford, 2017)  and 420.000 (Shen and Björke, 2015)
  • an international investigation of "Fake Science" led by dozens of media outlets including Le Monde, the German periodical Süddeutsche Zeitung, and The New Yorker magazine reported in 2018 that there may be as many as 10,000 predatory journals

Why such a sheer volume?

Many predatory publishers and journals use a business model that is based on quantitative publication. The reason is simple: the more articles they publish, the more money they can earn. To maximize profit margins:

  • predatory publishers generally have a very large and diversified catalogue of journals;
  • predatory journals (whether stand-alone or included in a publisher's catalogue) often adopt a high-frequency publishing strategy, releasing large numbers of issues.

The publish or perish logic underlying scientific research may also reinforce the development of fake science:

  • researchers wishing to remain competitive through rapid publication may become easy victims of predatory publishers and journals;
  • many stakeholders in scholarly communications still use primarily quantitative methods of resarch assesment, which can influence researchers to publish in predatory outlets - sometimes deliberately, but also uniwittingly.

A phenomenon going beyond Open Access Publishing Models

The phenomenon of fake science is also associated with :

  • fake conferences, which are appearing in increasing number - check the autenticity of conferences with: Think.Check.Attend;
  • vanity presses which offer to "publish" the works of students and researchers using a print-on-demand model without providing serious scholarly publishing services such as editorial review, peer review, copy-editing, formatting, etc.

What does the scholarly community do about it?