Phishers Journals or Predatory Journals

Identifying predatory journals – a few simple steps

(This is a summary of an article in the commentary section of Current Science, Vol.112 No.12, 25 June 2017)

It is possible for cyber criminals to publish numerous fake scientific journals after swindling users by taking “processing fee” exploiting the fact that it is difficult to discern between genuine and fake journals. This is called publication phishing. The normal prey are those researchers who are in the early stages of their career, whose research work is not of high quality and standard, who cannot write their research work in a scholarly language, may have copied a part of their research work from earlier published articles, or who want fast publication of their work as many of these ‘phishers’ claim to have a ‘fast turnaround time for publication’1. According to Sorooshian2 phishing is a multifaceted techno-social issue. The publishers of the fake journals or predatory journals host websites and publish large number of papers which are non-reviewed. These non-reviewed papers which are hosted are accessible on the internet and will be used by unaware researchers for their research work. So how to handle these publication phishers? Here are some basic steps to inform researchers on how they can tackle this problem.

  1. Title of the journal : The researchers are advised to verify the title of the journal in reputed databases like Web of Science and/or Scopus. Predatory journals usually hide the original title with words such as Global, International, European, Advanced, etc. to project as the journal is originating from a developed country.
  2. Editor and editorial board members : Check the credentials of the editorial board members as they are usually non academicians or non researchers in the predatory journals. Also verify their affiliations as given in the website and you may find that the members are mostly found to be “missing”. Also the country of origin of the editorial team must be verified as it is found that that the scholarly credentials cannot be ascertained.
  3. Scope of the journal : Read the scope of the journal. Predatory journals usually have a wide scope, that is, they invite papers for the next issue or forthcoming issue from unrelated scientific disciplines in order to attract more researchers to publish in their journals.
  4. Guideline/instructions to authors : With the objective of making money through submissions received, predatory journals/publishers copy instructions to authors from well-known publishers. Read the instructions carefully.
  5. Language used in predatory journals : Read some of the articles published in the predatory journals to know the language that is used for writing the scientific article. You will notice a lot of grammatical errors and poor language.
  6. Publication charges : The phishers charge nominal amounts from researchers by way of publication and maintenance fees. Sometimes the fee is not mentioned on the website but a separate mail is sent once the article is accepted for publication.
  7. Publication turnaround time : Journals claiming to have the shortest time from the date of submission of article to publishing such as 2-3 days should be thoroughly checked for authenticity.
  8. Contact page details : The contact page should be checked as most predatory journals do not provide a contact address. In some cases the contact page leads to a pop up window where authors are required to provide details and there is no response after that. Also the email id provided for contact is a generic one which itself spells out that the journal may be predatory in nature.

Some other the precautions that can be taken are checking of website, domain registration, etc. Researchers should check before communicating a manuscript to any journal with people who have experience in publishing in scientific journals of repute and also take the guidance from the library staff.

  1. Manthan D. Janodia, Identifying predatory journals – a few simple steps. Curr. Sci., 2017, 112(12), 2361-2362
  2. Sorooshian, S., Curr. Sci., 2016, 110(5), 766–767.