A predatory journal lures an author with false promises: A case study
Case: An author received a letter from a journal inviting a submission. Soon after the author submitted her paper, the editor sent an email saying her paper will be published in the next issue. The editor also requested the author to sign the copyright transfer forms, pay an article processing fee (APC), and upload the final manuscript. Since the author needed an accepted paper for her graduation, she was elated at the prospect and followed the instructions. There was no further communication from the journal for several weeks. Meanwhile the author wrote to the journal requesting a formal acceptance letter, but the journal replied saying it was not needed because publication was assured. However, when the next issue of the journal was published, the author was shocked to see that her paper had not been included in it. She tried to contact the editor but received no response. She was furious and approached Editage Insights for advice.
Action: On learning that the journal had promised to publish the paper directly, and had charged an APC at the time of submission, our publication experts were suspicious of the journal’s quality. A close scrutiny of the journal website indicated that it was a questionable journal that published low-quality articles. We informed the author that the journal seemed to be predatory or questionable, and she had evidently become a victim. We explained that the money she had paid as APC would most likely be forfeited, but advised her to withdraw her paper from the journal immediately as publishing in such a journal could hamper her reputation. She sent a withdrawal request, but received no response from the journal. We clarified to the author that she would not be able to submit the paper to another journal unless she received a confirmation of withdrawal; else, it would be considered a case of duplicate submission. However, when the author’s repeated attempts at contacting the journal failed, she wrote to them as per our advice mentioning a specific deadline, after which she would consider the paper withdrawn. She did not receive any response by the specified deadline, and submitted her manuscript to another journal, informing the editor about her experience with the previous journal. The editor asked for evidence of the author’s efforts to contact the journal, which the author readily provided. The editor was finally convinced and agreed to proceed with the evaluation process.
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Summary: Predatory journals often lure authors with false promises. The most gullible authors are young researchers who are new to academic publishing and do not have a clear understanding of how the system works. These researchers are also most often among those who are under immense pressure to publish. Predatory publishers make money by charging high APCs and indulging in deceptive practices. They do not have a proper peer review system. Publishing in such dubious journals can be damaging for a researcher’s career as it can give the impression that the author is using a quick and easy route to get published.
Authors should beware bogus publishers and check the journal website carefully before submission to ascertain its credibility. In addition, they should speak to professors or senior colleagues to find out which are the reputable journals in the field. Authors should also be wary of any journal that makes promises of publication and keep in mind that reputable journals do not ask for APCs at the time of submission. APCs are charged only after the completion of peer review and an official letter of acceptance from the journal.
Have you ever been approached by a dubious or questionable journal? If you have, please share your experience so that other researchers can be cautious and avoid falling into a similar trap.