The research sector has become increasingly vulnerable to overt commercial predation. As academic and publishing business models, research rating and peer review systems continue to evolve, they are susceptible to exploitation and misappropriation. Driven by profit and self-interest, the scale of this predation is increasing. This risks polluting the global research enterprise, with serious implications for research quality and integrity; wasting research funding, derailing research careers and undermining evidence-based policy decisions.
Today sees the release of a new report from the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) – the global network of more than 140 academies of science, engineering and medicine. This report is the culmination of a two-year study, Combatting Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which explored these practices more comprehensively and inclusively than ever before.
An international task force of diverse experts conducted extensive desk research, heard testimony from key stakeholders, and conducted a unique global survey that engaged more than 1,800 researchers from around the world to better understand what constitutes predatory academic practices, their prevalence and impact, tools and resources to avoid them, and the drivers or root causes allowing them to thrive. The authors’ message is clear: predatory academic practices are increasing at a disturbing rate and require urgent attention.
“Predatory journals and conferences appear to be invading all geographies, disciplines and academic career stages, with more than 80% of respondents to our global survey indicating that they are already a problem or on the rise in their country of work,” said said Susan Veldsman, Co-Chair of the study. “We estimate that over a million researchers likely used predatory outlets (largely unknowingly) at the cost of billions of dollars in wasted research. This is largely due to a lack of awareness and the inability to recognize what is predatory and what is not. Training is both urgent and imperative.
Predatory academic journals and conferences are those that are driven by profit rather than scholarship, soliciting papers and abstracts from scholars through actions that exploit the pressure on scholars to publish and present their works. The IAP report builds on current definitions and offers a range of journal and conference practices: a wide range of dynamic predatory behaviors and characteristics that distinguish outright fraud, shoddy, questionable and unethical, and best practices. All types of publishing and conference outlets, from reputable and established traditional publishers to emerging and open access publishers, can potentially engage in unethical practices, anywhere in the world. To help users navigate this complexity, recommendations are offered to help researchers do their due diligence and make informed choices about where to publish and present their work. Among the far-reaching recommendations, it is strongly recommended that universities provide explicit training in publishing ethics to both their professors and their students; research funders to develop, implement and audit policies that promote responsible scientific communication of the work they fund and to deter publication in predatory journals; and publishers to commit to waiving author fees for open access journal articles for researchers in low-income countries.
The authors argue that more needs to be done both to understand and combat predatory conferencing, and to address the systemic drivers of all predatory practices if interventions are to have long-lasting, lasting impact.
Professor Abdullah Shams Bin Tariq, co-chair of the study, said: “Predatory publishing is driven by three drivers or root causes: the increasing monetization and commercialization of research communication; research evaluation systems that emphasize quantity over quality; and the lack of transparency of the peer review system. We must address these issues if we are to combat predatory practices in academia. The author-pays open access model is particularly open to abuse, allowing publishers to precede researchers and pushing many of them, especially in countries with limited resources, into the arms of predatory media. This further exacerbates the already unacceptable systemic bias and research divide between researchers in low- and high-income countries.
Project Director Dr Tracey Elliott added: “Now more than ever, we need strong leadership and cooperation between academics, research funders, institutional leaders education, publishers, librarians and indexers, policy makers and the international scientific community. Everyone has their role to play and we make recommendations to each of them, noting that only urgent and collective action can succeed in combating these pervasive and harmful practices.
Reinforcing this point, Sir Richard Catlow, co-chair of the IAP and PI of the study, urged those who can make changes to do so. “The IAP report has highlighted the threat of predatory practices to the integrity of the scientific enterprise. We urge all stakeholders to follow the report’s recommendations.”
The full “Combatting Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences” report is available at https://www.interacademies.org/publication/predatory-practices-report-English and a summary report is available in seven languages at https://www. interacademies.org/project/predatorypublishing.
Note to editors: Members of the IAP Working Group are available for interviews.
About the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP)
Under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), more than 140 national, regional and global Member Academies work together to support the vital role of science in finding evidence-based solutions to the world’s toughest problems. In particular, IAP harnesses the expertise of world leaders in science, medicine, and engineering to advance sound policy, improve public health, promote excellence in science education, and achieve other essential development goals.
IAP’s four regional networks – AASSA, EASAC, IANAS and NASAC – are responsible for the management and implementation of many IAP-funded projects and help make IAP’s work relevant globally. whole. More information about the IAP can be found at www.interacademies.org, on Twitter at @IAPartnershipon LinkedIn and YouTube.
Teresa de la Puente, Executive Director, IAP Policy, [email protected]
The interacademy partnership
The title of the article
Fight against predatory academic journals and conferences
Publication date of articles
March 11, 2022
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