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Scientific open-access publishing for dissemination of research studies has resulted in numerous internet-based journals, referred to as predatory journals. These journals have lax peer review standards, accept studies of poor quality and have no proper indexing of the published manuscripts. Richtig et al1 observed that only 70% of 188 oncologists in Germany and Austria reported an understanding of predatory journals. However, even if they claimed to know about predatory journals, they may not be able to recognise one. We aimed to test a researcher’s ability to recognise a predatory journal using a survey study.
We surveyed 1270 authors who published in predatory journals. We obtained the contact information of these authors from publicly available data set provided by Moher et al (https://osf.io/y6hw2/).2 We received survey responses from 114 authors from 31 countries (response rate 9%). We queried if the authors were ‘aware of predatory journals’. If they answered ‘yes’ to the question, we asked seven questions that tested their ability to recognise predatory journals. These seven questions were identified from a list of 13 characteristics of predatory journals validated in a prior publication.3 Authors were ignorant of predatory journals if they self-reported lack of awareness or if they failed in the test (incorrectly answered four or more questions out of the seven).
Of the authors, 43% in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) and 26% in high-income countries (HICs) self-reported a lack of awareness of predatory journals (table 1). Majority of the authors in our study were ignorant about predatory journals (58%), irrespective of whether they are from an LMIC or an HIC. More authors in HICs who reported an awareness of predatory journals failed the test compared with authors in LMICs (48% vs 22%). Majority of the authors from LMICs reported that they paid the article processing charge themselves (78% from LMICs compared with 33% of authors from HICs). More authors in LMICs reported awareness of an institutional restriction to publishing in certain journals (32% vs 19%), reported a job-related requirement to publish in journals (53% vs 29%) and reported having a monetary incentive to publication (25% vs 7%).
Ignorance or lack of awareness about predatory publishing practices can result in a researcher sending their manuscript to such a journal. We find that in our study of 114 authors who published in predatory journals, the majority were indeed ignorant of predatory publishing practice. Lack of awareness about predatory publishing practices is associated with publishing in such journals. We may be able to reduce the impact of predatory publishing by instituting an awareness programme.
Contributors Both authors have contributed to the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval The study was approved by the University of Kentucky Institutional Review Board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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