In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in reports on the topic of fake science, which has also brought the well-known problem of "predatory open access" back into focus. According to this, some dubious publishers and societies have emerged, who publish supposedly "scientific" journals, which have titles and layouts similar to well-known and established scientific journals. These so-called predatory journals are advertised with fake ISSNs or impact factors. Although these journals are pseudoscientific, they charge authors publication fees (article processing charges - APCs) for this fraudulent business practice.
The editors of these journals engage in aggressive advertising, actively writing to researchers and inviting them to publish. There are no quality assurance procedures such as peer review in these journals, even though such procedures are often mentioned on the homepages. A commentary on this development was published in the Nature journal.
In addition to the Directory of Open Access Journals, the website of the "Think Check Submit" initiative can serve as a useful tool for identifying reputable scientific journals. The initiative, which is supported by publishing and library associations, provides scientists with a checklist that can be used to verify the trustworthiness and seriousness of a scientific journal. In order to illuminate the problem of predatory journals to authors worldwide, the three-step guide "Think Check Submit" has been translated into numerous languages. (see Helmholtz Open Science newsletter 2017/11/30)
In a statement on so-called predatory publishers, adopted by the Senate of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) on October 2nd, 2018, universities acknowledge their responsibility for scientific quality assurance.
How can you avoid falling victim to a predatory journal? The following tips provide a short overview without claiming to be complete.
Recently founded journals in particular are not included in the initiatives or databases (yet). Therefore, it is always useful to include several criteria.
Find open access journals:
Check membership of publishers in initiatives:
Please note that black sheep do not only exist solely in open access publishing. There are also scientifically unsound or prank articles in established subscription journals from time to time, demonstrating that peer review has its limits. However, do not be deterred. If you have any questions on this topic, we are happy to help you and identify such publishers.