Scientific journals which don’t properly review papers before publishing them are damaging the industry’s reputation, experts warn.
The ‘predatory journals’ are accused of having dangerously low standards and publishing papers simply to make money.
Although they didn’t name the journals, the scientists listed red flags which should put researchers off using certain publications.
Ones that have near-identical names to respected journals, those with shabby websites or with dubious contact details should be avoided, they said.
The scathing comment was published by experts from the American Medical Writers Association, the European Medical Writers Association and the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.
Researchers may be tempted to submit to less prestigious journals so they can say they’ve been published, but should avoid doing so, the organisations said.
‘The conscious and deliberate submission of manuscripts to predatory journals is not ethical,’ the organisations said.
‘Medical writers and editors, as well as researchers, have a responsibility to evaluate the integrity, history, practices, and reputation of the journals to which their research is submitted.
‘Legitimate research carried out with the best of intentions might be lost.
‘Dangers to authors also exist in that their reputations can be damaged as a result of having their work published in predatory journals or being unknowingly “appointed” to their editorial boards.
‘Furthermore, authors may find themselves trapped after submitting an article to a predatory journal.
‘There is a potential risk that some journals might not return submitted manuscripts or will publish a submitted paper even after an author has protested.’
The team published their ‘joint position statement on predatory publishing’ in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion.
Scientific journals operate on a peer-review system in which academics’ work is read by other experts in the field to decide how well the research was done.
Studies which were poorly carried out or results which were misinterpreted by the scientists may be rejected and not published.
‘Predatory’ journals which don’t bother with a rigorous peer review system could end up publishing inaccurate or poor quality research.
The organisations said in their editorial that the journals ‘intentionally misrepresent’ normal practices and will ultimately only harm the industry.
They admitted a large increase in the number of journals over the past 15 years had made it more difficult to tell which ones were respectable.
Those which ‘aggressively solicit researchers’ were among the culprits, they said, as well as ones promising ‘unrealistically quick’ review, with a lack of transparent pricing, claims of unusually broad coverage or from companies with a large number of new journals.
Dr Robert Matheis, from the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), added: ‘Professional medical communicators and publication planners must be aware of the serious threat predatory publishing poses to scientific literature.
‘ISMPP’s participation in this joint position statement is part of our commitment to educating our members about predatory publishing and how to address this significant issue.’