I remember receiving my first “accept” letter for a novel I was working on many years ago. In my excitement, I didn’t stop to think that it was strange that, before the editor began working with me, I would have to pay a large sum of money to get the manuscript into shape. When my euphoria died down and my skepticism shot up, I decided to submit a fake query to the same publisher, highlighting a novel that could never possibly get published. Imagine my dismay when I received the exact same acceptance letter.
So in a way, predatory publishing is not an entirely new concept. And in fact, many more or less legitimate self-publishing options for books, fiction or otherwise, still exist. But with the increasing dominance of the Web and the rise of the open access movement—established to help spread publicly funded research—a more invidious and widely pervasive form of predatory publishing has taken hold in scholarly publishing. And the stakes are far higher. While my novel probably wasn’t going to affect anyone’s life, articles published by unscrupulous publishers—especially medical and nursing literature—have a lot more power to cause damage.
Flawed, unreliable content.
Since predatory journals often forego rigorous peer review, exploit authors, fabricate their own metrics, and lack ethics and editorial leadership, content published in them can be flawed, unreliable, and prone to errors. And it’s not always just the publishers that are being unscrupulous—authors eager to expand their curricula vitae may participate just to get published, at any cost.
Among the possible consequences of publishing flawed research is that it could make its way into clinical practice, resulting in patient harm. And because these journals mimic authentic journals, even sometimes having almost identical names to well-regarded publications, it can be hard to identify and avoid them.
What’s a nurse researcher or writer to do?
In “Predatory Journals: Alerting Nurses to Potentially Unreliable Content” (free until January 25), Danielle Gerberi provides an overview on the emergence of predatory publishing, the common unsavory practices of these publishers, tips on how to avoid predatory journals, and resources.
You can also read our four-part writing series, “Writing for Publication, Step by Step,” especially “Navigating the Publishing Process,” which discusses predatory publishing. We also published an editorial on the topic in 2015.
What’s your experience of predatory publishing, as a writer or reader? Leave us a comment.