Predatory publishing is when an entity, such as an academic journal or publisher, uses an author's work for personal profit with no regard to legitimacy and accuracy. It is an exploitative model where a publisher charges an author fees to publish their work without any sort of quality control. This means that the publisher does not check the works for accuracy, plagiarism, and legitimacy (Elmore and Weston, 2020). The publisher does not provide any editorial services to the authors either, so scholars are deceived into thinking that the publisher is a safe platform for their work. By providing an unsafe publishing platform, it is a cheap model for predatory publishers to profit off others' works.
Most predatory publishers incorporate the "open access model" to their business, which allows work to be distributed to the public for free or with few access barriers (Elmore and Weston, 2020). This makes it easy for predatory publishers to profit because they make authors pay to publish their work.
How were predatory publishers created?
According to Beall (2017), the rise of predatory publishing began in 1998, when the Internet and World Wide Web became gained popularity in modern society. Before the Internet, most academic journals were printed and ordered by subscription. The process of publishing was simple and low quality journals were easily avoided. In the 1990s, subscription prices for journals increased drastically, so many academic libraries cancelled their subscriptions. These factors led to the open access movement, placing blame for the high subscription prices on "greedy" publishers who did not support the "open access" model. Open access journals were founded as a result, with little regard for publishing ethics or policies. This lead to the establishment of predatory publishers, who care more about making money than they do about ethical publishing (Beall, 2017).
While the Internet benefits the academic community greatly, you can see that it has allowed predatory publishers to bypass publishing ethics and policies. However, there are ways to determine whether an academic journal is "predatory."
Predatory publishers do not seek to help you and your research. Their main goal is to make a profit off other people's work and ignoring all other aspects of the publishing business. As long as they receive their money, it does not matter to them what happens to the work you published. Not only can you hurt your reputation as a researcher, but you can even lose the right to your own research if you are not careful (Elmore and Weston, 2020). There are several consequences of publishing with a predatory journal, which can be viewed here.
There are signs that can indicate predatory publishers. If a publisher has or does any of these things, it is a good indicator of a predatory publisher.
Characteristics of Predatory Publishers
According to Arzole (2020) and Elmore and Weston (2020), the following traits are qualities of scholarly journals. In many cases, the characteristics of scholarly journals are the exact opposite of predatory journals. Thinking about the characteristics in this way may help you distinguish journals when assessing them for quality.
Characteristics of Professional Journals
According to Elmore and Weston (2020), there are several questions to ask yourself when evaluating a publisher or academic journal:
The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) outlines the Principles of Transparency and best practices in scholarly publishing to assist authors in assessing the legitimacy of publishers. You can access the principles and their website here.