So, you receive a very flattering invitation from a publisher asking to publish your thesis or dissertation, or to publish an article for you. If you are a new scholarly author or have not published before, this is bound to be exciting news for you and a perceived stepping-stone to the world of scholarly publishing. You probably ignore or do not even notice some grammar or spelling errors in the invitation. You may not even notice that it is addressed to “Dear Student” or “Dear Academic” instead of your name. It all sounds so positive. They also offer a quick turnaround time to publish your work, so that you do not have to wait for months before the work is finally published. What could be better?
Stop right there!! Before you do anything, consider the following:
- Who is the publisher?
- Where is the publisher based?
- Have you heard about this publisher before?
- Does the journal have an ISSN?
- Is it listed on any accredited list that your institution recommends for publication?
- Have other academics or students you know published in this publication?
If you do not know the answers to the above questions, then it is important that you do some research before you consider responding to the invitation or submitting your manuscript. Find out whether this is a reputable publisher – you can check Scopus, Web of Science, or other lists on the Department of Higher Education and Training’s accredited lists. There are also many other such lists, but they are not all easy to find.
Check if it is listed on a blacklist of publishers, e.g. Beallslist.net or Stop Predatory Journals or any other known list of predatory publishers? If you are not sure, ask for assistance from your supervisor, Faculty, colleagues, or your Librarian. If the publisher is listed on a blacklist, or if you suspect it is questionable, do not respond to the invitation. Just ignore the invitation and any follow-up reminders. Assign them to your junk folder and delete.
Do not publish your work in a predatory or questionable journal.
Wikipedia defines predatory publishing as “an exploitative academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without checking articles for quality and legitimacy, and without providing editorial and publishing services that legitimate academic journals provide, whether open access or not”. Questionable publishers may not necessarily be predatory, but their practices are not up to standard. They could be start-up publishers or underfunded publishers that are trying to make a living but whose practices are not at the acceptable standard of reputable publishers. They may improve over time but then they need to have adopted international standards and best practices before you consider publishing with them in the future.
It is not advisable for you to publish in a predatory publication. It has negative implications for you as a scholarly author, for your reputation, your CV and your career. It also devalues your paper and the research outputs of your university. Predatory publications are not generally read or cited by reputable authors, so if your work is published in a predatory journal and cited, it is likely to be cited in other predatory or questionable journals, adding to citation pollution in academia. Even though the content of your paper may be good, it will become a “lost” paper if it is published in a predatory or questionable publication.
Predatory publishers essentially publish to make money. They are not concerned about academic integrity, quality, peer-review, or any standards for that matter. Some publish manuscripts without any amendments, editing, or peer-review. They basically put a cover on a manuscript and publish it without any changes. They promise to publish in a very short time, sometimes within a week or so, which is indicative of predatory or questionable publishing practices.
It is particularly important that you publish in a reputable publication where the publishers follow international standards and best practice and offer full peer-review services. The period of publication will be longer because thorough peer-review by experts in the field takes some weeks or even months to complete. However, it will be worth it. Your publication will be of an acceptable academic standard and published in a reputable publication.
Before you get caught in the web of predatory publishers, think about registering for one of my webinars on Scholarly Publishing and Predatory Publishing Practices. You will learn about reputable publishers and predatory publishing practices and how to identify and avoid the latter. You will also learn about citation pollution. You will receive helpful resources and learn about a new research tool that can check your references before you submit your manuscripts or research reports, so that you avoid citation pollution and publishing in predatory publications. I also offer webinars on Copyright and Authors’ Rights, Plagiarism, Paraphrasing and Quoting, Improving Writing Skills, and Using Open Access and Open Educational Resources. I also tailor webinars to suit individual or institutional needs.
Are you interested in learning more about the above topics?
If yes, please email Denise.Nicholson@scholarlyhorizons.com or complete the form on my website to let me know which webinars would interest you, so I can let you know dates, times, and costs of upcoming webinars. I offer a sliding scale of fees for institutions, organisations, corporates, NGOs, individuals and students. If you register for a webinar before 31 MAY 2021, you will receive a COVID-19-related discount, so please contact me soon.