Just as the second email ever sent was probably spam, the advent of open access publishing has brought individuals and businesses attempting to exploit scientists and researchers unfamiliar with their tactics. Becoming informed about these predatory publishers and how they operate is vital to avoiding their snare.
Predatory publishers and journals take advantage of the author-pay model of legitimate open access by charging large fees without providing any editorial or services and engaging in other nefarious behaviors, such as:
• Mimicking the name or web site style of more established journals.
• Accepting articles quickly with little or no peer review or quality control, including hoax and nonsensical papers (of course, more reputable journals sometimes have done the same).
• Notifying academics of article fees only after papers are accepted.
• Aggressively campaigning for academics to submit articles or serve on editorial boards.
• Listing academics as members of editorial boards without their permission or not allowing academics to resign from editorial boards.
• Appointing fake academics to editorial boards.
One strong source of information about predatory publishers is the Scholarly Open Access blog, written by Jeffrey Beall, Scholarly Initiatives Librarian at the Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver. Beall’s lists of questionable publishers and standalone journals should be a first stop for information if you receive a suspicious solicitation from an unfamiliar journal.