Pall of the Predatory: The Research Version
Publish or perish. It is ironic how this simple aphorism has now molded the research world and researchers’ lives. It all started from a modest intention of encouraging education stakeholders to research and publish. Of course, this was initiated to uplift the education standard. Beautiful, right? However, the demand is getting intense and they have started to take this too seriously that they publish and perish.
Afraid to perish, they abuse the system. Many stakeholders become fiercely competitive to the extent of stealing somebody else’s works, manipulating the result to make it impressive, publishing to meet quantity over quality, and researching more than teaching. Sadly, unethical techniques supersede to achieve career progression.
Indeed, the evolution of academia has seemingly become a rat race and the home of the zombies. Thereby, fun turns to pressure, morals are driven by recognition, and collaboration develops into corruption. If we will allow this kind of system, we are also the predatory.
Under a dark cloud is much bigger predators that are waiting for novice or desperate writers to fall into their trap. They are working overnight and always vigilant to catch their next prey. They are the predatory journals and publishers that have attractive yet shady marketing strategies of a speedy publication and no editing process in exchange of immediate submission fees.
Despite these obvious red flags, some researchers will still be lured because of the fear to perish or simply because their universities offer higher financial incentive for every published work; not to mention, the concept of prestige and promotion that are entailed on it.
Even though there are some writers who decided to “cling to a knife” (in Filipino, “kapit sa patalim”), there are more of them who are just oblivious about the dirty works. Because of this, dedicated scientists and researchers alike designed tools to combat these predatory journals and publishers.
The most famous among them is Jeffrey Beall. He is an American library scientist who pioneered the criticism to open access and predatory publishing which is now widely known as Beall’s list.
Moreover, Grudniewicz et al. (2019) affirmed that a consensual definition of predatory journals and publishers can be the first step to stop this global threat. Ergo, they defined these as “entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices” (para. 7).
Additionally, they created a comprehensive heart shape illustration to show the two blacklist predatory journals (Beall’s and Cabells Scholarly Analytics’) and two whitelist legitimate journals (the Directory of Open Access Journals’ and Cabells Scholarly Analytics’) from Strinzel et al.’s (2019) study.
Certainly, there are continuous efforts to fight these predators. In line with this, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the leading and most active group that promotes integrity in the research world, imparts publication ethics assistance. You may follow their Facebook Page to keep yourself updated.
Likewise, De La Salle University Libraries (Philippines) do not support any unethical means of publication; thereby, they offer a lineup of events to make their practitioners cognizant. One of these programs was a talk titled “Don’t be a Prey: Understanding Open Access and Predatory Publications” which I personally attended last April 30, 2021.
Ms. Roana Marie Flores (a registered librarian and Philippine Librarians Association Inc. member) discussed the nature of academic publishing, open access, and predatory publishing. Most importantly, she shared tips, links, and rubrics for checking reputable journals.
On that note, we have to realize the trajectories we may take - reputable, legitimate, or predatory journals. We have the liberty, yet it must be accompanied with knowledge and ethics. We have to be meticulous and conscientious with our intention and action because the power is in our hands. It is everyone’s responsibility to resist the predators. If we succeed on this, we will all experience the beautiful benefits of working honestly and competing healthily.
Therefore, to publish our work is not just an academic responsibility or an alternative financial sustenance. It should be taken as a social responsibility whereby researching and publishing should be able to positively improve oneself, the community, and our society. Let’s unite because we have big shoes to fill.
So when people are getting frantic and the pressure is getting higher, let us not forget to pause, contemplate, and remember that we write and publish to make this world a better place. Hence, our mantra should be…
Publish and flourish!
Beall’s List. (2021). Potential predatory scholarly open‑access publishers. https://beallslist.net/
Grudniewicz, A., Moher, D., & Lalu, M. M. (2019, December 11). Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03759-y
Strinzel, M., Severin, A., Milzow, K., & Egger, M. (2019). Blacklists and whitelists to tackle predatory publishing: a cross-sectional comparison and thematic analysis. mBio 10:e00411-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio .00411-19.
Velica, P. (2017, September 22). Pedromics. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pedromics/