Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology

: 2020  |  Volume : 63  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 5--6

Predatory publishing on the rise

Ranjan Agrawal 
 MD, FIC Path, MIAC, DHA, Professor, Department of Pathology, Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Ranjan Agrawal
MD, FIC Path, MIAC, DHA, Professor, Department of Pathology, Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh

How to cite this article:
Agrawal R. Predatory publishing on the rise.Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2020;63:5-6

How to cite this URL:
Agrawal R. Predatory publishing on the rise. Indian J Pathol Microbiol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 22 ];63:5-6
Available from:

Full Text

Dear Readers,

The present write-up intends to provide an insight to the readers about the predatory journals and various harmful effects by submitting articles in these journals. The main purpose of this editorial is to make the authors aware of some of the traps that are normally set for them. Once they fall into it, then there is no looking back. It is thus aptly said, “Prevention is better than cure.” Not only can the authors be held responsible for their misdeeds, but also the publishers are equally liable for their lack of spreading awareness among the potential authors regarding the pseudo or predatory journals. The term “predatory journal” was framed by Jeffrey Beall. The other terms used for such journals are “pseudo,” “illegitimate,” “dark,” and “deceptive” journals or journals operating in bad faith.[1]

Manuscripts are important and key documents for the authors. They are precious and need to be published in prime journals. As per the requirement and increase in demand for academic appointments, promotions, or eligibility for appearing in the postgraduate examinations, publication is mandatory. Authentic and peer-reviewed journals take their own time as the articles undergo a strict sequence of steps before being finally accepted or rejected. Majority of the authors realize the requirement of publication very late and then they look out for a journal which will publish their article in a very short time span or may be overnight. It is well understood that such journals are predatory journals with no well-defined editing format or quality system. Predatory journals display unofficial impact factors, fake or insignificant indexation, improper author information, or article-processing charges and also lack a proper editorial board. Another fact remains that these journals have not been segregated, standardized, or even classified.[2] Once the authors get aware about such “pseudo journals,” they should remain cautious.

The Directory of Open-Access Journals (DOAJ) lists nearly 12,000 journals that it considers as peer reviewed, quality journals and that are open-access type with visibility for all those who wish to read or download an article published in these listed journals individually. DOAJ journals indicate that they meet the prerequisites of being peer reviewed and maintain the basic standards of publication as required. If the journal is not listed in the DOAJ, it should arouse a doubt in the author's mind and should doubly check before the submission of articles. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) in Bethesda provides access to the bibliographic data not only for the journals but also for books, audiovisuals, computer software programs, and electronic resources, besides few other items. If the NLM Catalog mentions “Not currently indexed for MEDLINE,” it means that the journal may be questionable. Just because a journal is not indexed in MEDLINE, it does not imply that the journal is automatically doubtful. It could also mean that the journal is too new for MEDLINE or out of its purview or scope.[3] Another question that may be put forth is regarding the journal being listed on the Cabell's blacklist? The authors can also check the Cabell's blacklist to see if the selected or proposed journal is listed in their database. If a journal is claiming to have an impact factor, the authors need to be sure and also confirm this through the official Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database. Only journals in JCR can officially state that they possess an impact factor. Librarians are well trained to identify predatory journals. New authors are advised to go for a second opinion.

If we look into the figures, a study by Beall in 2011 identified 23 publishers to be labeled as predatory, whereas another study by the same author in 2016 identified 1150 similar publishers. In these journals, a total of approximately 420,000 articles were published. Majority of these journals and articles were in the field of biomedicine.[4],[5] This burden is equal to or more than the number of manuscripts published in authentic journals.

Predatory publications not only charge a hefty amount but are also heavily plagiarized besides being non peer reviewed. Peer review by an expert in the particular field ensures that the content of the manuscript carry a specific meaning and purpose, data do match with the previous such publications, and also there is a well-defined outcome of the study.[2] At times, the articles published in these predatory journals may disappear from the database after sometime. In addition, work with the same or slightly modified data may later be published in some other journal by some other author's name.

In the normal course of publishing, editors play a vital role in selecting the panel of reviewers to look into the submitted manuscript for their comments, criticism, and then final decision on their acceptability after revision or rejection. Predatory journals recruit fake editors. These editors are just dummy figures who accept all papers submitted and the journal takes the payment.[1],[6]

The common points of caution taken from the articles published in predatory journals are mentioned below. The authors are advised to consider them before submitting their manuscript in any journal so that they do not fall prey to such false publications:

Poor-quality articles or articles with no scientific sanctityArticles published are of varied lengthsMajor variations in the article typesToo many grammatical errorsReferences and their styles are of wide rangePoor citation of articlesIll-defined or no specific article-processing charge mentionedRegular communications or E-mails with poorly drafted and wrong grammatical EnglishE-mails are not pertaining to the potential subject specialty of the authorsE-mails not addressed or responded properlyE-mails regularly sent to potential authors carrying names of significant recognition bodies such as University Grants Commission and Medical Council of IndiaMisquoted impact factor valuesJournals do not follow the Committee of Publication Ethics guidelinesEditorial board members are lesser-known persons in their field or their biographical information is not available.

Through such editorial insights, we would keep updating the authors and reviewers on topics that would enhance their knowledge as well as make them aware about the prevailing misconducts and unethical practices in the field of medical writing.


1Moher D, Shamseer L, Cobey KD, Lalu MM, Galipeau J, Avey MT, et al. Stop this waste of people, animals and money. Nature 2017;549:23-5.
2Azeez AE. Academic writing and publishing in India: Is quality a touchstone? J Comm Post Pract 2017;17:13-24.
3Cobey KD, Lalu MM, Skidmore B, Ahmadzai N, Grudniewicz A, Moher D. What is a predatory journal? A scoping review. F1000Res 2018;7:1001.
4Beall J. Predatory Publishing the Scientist; 1 May, 2012. [Last accessed on 2016 Dec 02].
5Beall J. Scholarly open Access: List of Publishers. [Last accessed on 2016 Dec 02].
6Houghton F. Ethics in academic publishing: A timely reminder. J Med Libr Assoc 2017;105:282-4.