David Moher (Lead and Corresponding Author) & 31 Co-Authors
Mohrer Affiliation: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and University of Ottawa
Nature 549, 23–25
September 7, 2017
Predatory journals are easy to please. They seem to accept papers with little regard for quality, at a fraction of the cost charged by mainstream open-access journals. These supposedly scholarly publishing entities are murky operations, making money by collecting fees while failing to deliver on their claims of being open access and failing to provide services such as peer review and archiving.
Despite abundant evidence that the bar is low, not much is known about who publishes in this shady realm, and what the papers are like. Common wisdom assumes that the hazard of predatory publishing is restricted mainly to the developing world. In one famous sting, a journalist for Science sent a purposely flawed paper to 140 presumed predatory titles (and to a roughly equal number of other open-access titles), pretending to be a biologist based in African capital cities1. At least two earlier, smaller surveys found that most authors were in India or elsewhere in Asia2, 3. A campaign to warn scholars about predatory journals has concentrated its efforts in Africa, China, India, the Middle East and Russia. Frequent, aggressive solicitations from predatory publishers are generally considered merely a nuisance for scientists from rich countries, not a threat to scholarly integrity.
Our evidence disputes this view. We spent 12 months rigorously characterizing nearly 2,000 biomedical articles from more than 200 journals thought likely to be predatory. More than half of the corresponding authors hailed from high- and upper-middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank.