The Predatory Journal: Victimizer or Victim?

Grandon Gill
Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline  •  Volume 24  •  2021  •  pp. 051-082
Aim/Purpose: Labeling a journal as “predatory” can do great damage to the journal and the individuals that have contributed to it. This paper considers whether the predatory classification has outlived its usefulness and what might replace it.

Background: With the advent of open access publishing, the term “predatory” has increasingly been used to identify academic journals, conferences, and publishers whose practices are driven by profit or self-interest rather than the advancement of science. Absent clear standards for determining what is predatory and what is not, concerns have been raised about the misuse of the label.

Methodology: Mixed methods: A brief review of the literature, some illustrative case studies, and conceptual analysis.

Contribution: The paper provides recommendations for reducing the impact of illegitimate journals.

Findings: Current predatory classifications are being assigned with little or no systematic research and virtually no accountability. The predatory/not predatory distinction does not accommodate alternative journal missions.

Recommendations for Researchers: The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate journals requires consideration of each journal’s mission. To serve as a useful guide, a process akin to that used for accrediting institutions needs to be put in place.

Impact on Society: Avoiding unnecessary damage to the careers of researchers starting out.

Future Research: Refining the initial classification scheme proposed in the paper.
predatory journals, peer review, replication, complexity, scientific research
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