We hear a lot about spurious journals run by predatory publishers that charge high fees for so-called open access publication. Peer review processes are minimal or non-existent so there is no quality control. Recent well-publicised exposés include a nonsense article apparently authored by characters from the Simpsons (http://tinyurl.com/n29k8lj), and another which consisted of the repeated phrase ‘get me off your fxxxing mailing list’ (http://tinyurl.com/qx7bu88). Fortunately we now have better weapons for avoiding such predation, most notably Beall’s list: http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/.
Be warned, however, that these are not the only such beasts now roaming the academic jungle. Here’s my I-Spy list of the ones to watch out for:
Journoraptor: Referred to above, this comes camouflaged as a bona-fide journal with a near-identical title. It stalks unwary academics and lures them with promises of publication for a fee. Sadly it’s a case of publish and perish with these nasties: falling prey not only empties bank accounts but badly discredits CVs and provides no REF value. Avoidance tactics: if you are approached and feel tempted, search Beall’s list and check with your librarian.
Monographodon: This is closely related to Journoraptor. It travels in the disguise of a legitimate publisher, again using the camouflage of a legitimate-sounding name. It lures its prey with promises of publishing that book (perhaps a PhD thesis, or some rejected manuscript in the bottom drawer). It differs from Journoraptor in that it will actually physically publish, but it lacks any ability or desire to market the book, taking the money and producing a handful of copies. REF reviewers will not be fooled. Avoidance tactics: if you are approached with the lure of publishing ‘your book’ (with no details specified) run for the hills.
Conferensasaurus: This one is clever. Its lure is an academic conference in the sun with conference topics that are so broad as to cover nearly every academic domain. But don’t be fooled. There may be a ‘conference’ of sorts, but with no academic merit whatsoever, no follow-up and at a high cost. There will be no REF value. Avoidance tactics: watch out for very broad themes and very attractive venues. If you see both together, run very fast (unless your institution is kind enough to fund you for such things, you want a free holiday and are unethical enough to use funds in this way – NOT recommended).
Copyrightonator: Another pernicious beast who predates junior researchers in particular. It roams the jungle collecting thesis topics and then lures its prey with offers of publication when complete. Its diet is copyright ownership and it’s playing the long game, hoping that its prey’s work will become marketable in the future and copyright ownership will be valuable. Researchers’ hopes of future employment on the back of this, and of REF value, will certainly be dashed. Avoidance tactics: if you are approached out of the blue with this kind of offer, delete it. Only sign copyright agreements for specific, completed outputs, and read them carefully.
LegitoSaurus: This nasty little guy is sneaky. It preys on established academics whose names are known in the discipline. It builds a trap of a legitimate-sounding academic activity, perhaps a conference or project, and invites academics to join the academic board, executive committee or some such. Doing so offers no esteem value whatsoever. Avoidance tactics: if you are approached watch for phrases like “There is no obligation when you serve in the committee” and then run very fast indeed.
Impactobactor: A clever one this, feeding both on the academic looking for a high impact factor and on other predatory beasts. Its skin mimics that of ‘legitimate’ impact-measuring organizations such as Thompson Reuters’ Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) which provided metrics about publications. Impactobactor lures both Journoraptors and academics to pay for completely spurious impact measurements. Avoidance tactics: They are particularly hard to spot (watch out, for example, for the “Institute for Science Information” – not “Scientific”: http://isi-thomsonreuters.com/main). Read their names and website addresses carefully and look out for poor English on websites. If you spot them the advice is, as always….run for it.
These beasts seriously threaten your reputation by association, may cost you money and will never help you perform better in the REF.