"Predatory" Open-Access Scientific Journals Threaten Academic Reputations

Aimee Hosler | CityTownInfo.com | April 9, 2013

On the World Wide Web where virtually anyone can publish almost anything, it can be difficult to validate the authority of information and sources. Now, as the worlds of traditional scholarly publishing and open access (OA) journals intersect, it may be more difficult than ever.

The New York Times reports that academics are seeing an increase in so-called "predatory publishers," seemingly legitimate open access scholarly journals that will allegedly publish almost anything for a fee. In some cases, these websites are nearly identical to established, prestigious publications in name, appearance, or both. Some charge outrageous fees for publication while others misuse professors' names and credentials to further establish their credibility. These sites can end up costing researchers thousands of dollars -- and legitimate publishers their reputations.

Take Dr. James White, a plant pathologist at Rutgers who accepted an invitation to serve on the editorial board of a new journal called Plant Pathology & Microbiology, only to discover his name, resume and photo were being used to promote his entomological expertise. The problem: White is not an entomologist.