What are "predators" and why this label should not be put on all journals?

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Modern science requires every scientist maximum concentration and understanding of all processes that occur in the field of science and scientometrics due to the speed of its development. Today, one of the topics that actively concerns many researchers is "predatory journals". In this article we will consider what concept it is and why Scopus only this year removed more than 500 periodicals from its database?

Increased attention to the term "predatory publication" arose thanks to the librarian from the United States Jeffrey Bill. In 2012, he published an article in Nature Journal, having publicly raised the curtain on the existence of fake open access periodicals, and provided a list of more than 1.200 journals and 1.100 publishing houses, having exposed their dishonest activities. He developed a method to recognize "predatory journals" which contains 54 requirements and includes the following sections:

– journal's editor and editorial board

– business model of journals and publishing houses

– methods of cooperation

– low criteria

– honesty

Also, Bill added a section about the journal's ability to appeal the decision to remove it from the database.

"Predators" copy the websites of journals with a proven reputation and publish there articles of poor quality that do not pass a strict peer review. The reasons why scientists still publish their research papers in them are the lack of grant support and financing, as well as the need to publish their research more often for career growth. Because of the requirements for scientific activity, haste and disinformation, scientists often become hostages of the situation and victims of "predators". The popular American saying "Publish or perish" comes to mind which clearly shows the state of modern Ukrainian scientific publications and confirms the above statements.

What are the main signs of "predatory" journal?

1) No peer review of research articles or it is very fast – a few days.

2) Self-citation can be 60-80% or more, there is a constant publication of articles with signs of plagiarism.

3) Periodical does not have a clearly defined specialization and works with many academic disciplines. 

4) Abnormally large or small number of publications in the issue.

5) Editorial board accepts papers in advance or delays the journal's publication, thus the manuscript can be published in a scientific periodical which was removed from the list of the database.

6) The most well-known index of the journal's impact is Impact Factor (IF), and such as Universal Impact Factor (UIF), Global Impact Factor (GIF), Citefactor (CIF) and the others are just fiction of impostors.

Expert evaluation is the main condition for publication, but rapid evaluation of "predatory" journals has nothing to do with real peer review which can sometimes last up to 9 months. One should remember that scientometric standards require qualitative and in-depth research, which are carefully prepared, and only after editorial corrections and proofreading of the text they are given to the peer reviewers, but even in this case there is no guarantee that a paper will be published. Many articles are simply not allowed to be published, unlike "journals-predators" which are ready to publish any research.

No one scientometric platform is protected from the fact that at the beginning of its activity the journal adhered to the publication principles, and then, in pursuit of financial gain, could level the high standards of publications. Scopus and Web of Science constantly conduct the verification of the periodicals included in their databases and spend for it from 3 months to 2 years. If there is the slightest suspicion of misconduct, a thorough investigation is conducted. If the assumptions are confirmed, the journal is removed from the list. The representatives of Scopus and WoS are guided by the principles of objectivity, the desire to achieve truth, a balanced evaluation of all aspects, as well as attentive attitude to scientists and editorial board. Only in the first half of 2019, Scopus excluded 560 periodicals.

Jeffrey Bill helped scientists and scientometric databases be on the alert and closely check the journals, but wishing to make a sensational statement about his discovery, he exaggerated this problem too much and started putting on labels on some journals and international publishing houses with honest reputation.

 Because of this, they filed a number of lawsuits against Bill and forced him to shut down his website with a list of "predators". Now the librarian bears serious legal liability, including financial and reputational, because his conclusions, which were made in haste, caused damage to many periodicals. Suspecting a journal, it is important to carefully check the information about it, but not every scientist has the full range of knowledge about the quality of the periodical. It is possible to discover a low-quality journal only after an in-depth analytical process conducted with the help of specialized companies that actively work in the field of scientific publications and cooperate with Scopus and Web of Science Databases.

It is necessary to understand that scrupulous periodicals with the reputation proven for years are much more than bad journals, and they should not be considered as potential "predators". Scopus and Web of Science constantly keep records of citation indices, monitor the compliance with journal standards and take into account expert opinion. The check of journals and their exclusion is an endless process that motivates to maintain and improve the standards of scientometrics.

Given all this, before submitting an article for publication, a researcher should understand the content of the periodical, read the editorial policy, negotiate with representatives, as well as communicate with colleagues and constantly monitor the information scientometric space to be the first to learn about all innovations. A scientist should work hard to improve his understanding of modern publishing processes, through collaboration with the professional research community, for whom academic culture is not hollow words, but a clear vector of their activities. 

Scientific Publications-Publ.Science our company provides services on choosing high-quality journals for the publication of our clients' articles in them. Also, if you need help in the diagnostics of a journal, please contact our specialists by filling up the contact form on the website.

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