Predatory journals

hands typing on a computer keyboard


By Amber Wood

As predatory journals become increasingly common in the scholarly publishing landscape, major media outlets like CBC and CTV News have broadcasted cautionary tales to researchers.

The growing concern with predatory journals is that they do not reflect the quality present in the scholarly publishing landscape and can be exploitive of researchers. Predatory publishers exploit the author-pays business model for their own profit. They conduct little to no peer review or editing work thereby hindering the scientific process and research integrity.

Jeffrey Beall, a U.S. librarian and associate professor at University of Colorado Denver, is best known for drawing attention to predatory publishing. “It’s a big mess and the victims are researchers themselves,” said Beall in a CTV News interview from 2016.

Despite increased attention in the media, and caution from higher educational institutions, the number of predatory journals, and the number of articles these journals publish, continues to rise.

The University of Guelph Library recently offered an information session entitled, “Don’t Get Eaten: What you need to know about Predatory Publishing”. The session provided a deep dive on predatory publishers how and why they exist.

“Researchers can easily be tricked into submitting to predatory journals” says Amy Buckland, head of research & scholarship at the University of Guelph Library. One factor that may be contributing to the rise of predatory journals is that they can be challenging to spot and, thus, difficult to avoid. The Library offers helpful tips on how to avoid characteristics of predatory journals and actively supports researchers in navigating journal selection.

Journal brands continue to play an important part in helping researchers identify reputable journals. Further, the development and use of digital technologies provides researchers valuable information on a journal’s publication practices.

Researchers at the U of G have a valuable resource with our on-campus Library. Experts are available to answer questions and support with navigating journal selection and publishing. The Research Support Fund also assists researchers with publishing services.

The Library services can be found online.