Predatory publishers harm academia

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Predatory publishers that only simulate academic quality-assurance procedures harm the credibility of academia, which must develop greater awareness of this kind of business model.

25.07.2018 · HP-Topnews

Predatory publishing – causing harm to academia, not via academia

Predatory conferences and journals simulate academic quality assurance without actually delivering it. Behind what, in the majority of instances, appears to be a professionally designed offering lies a purely commercial interest that, at first glance, is barely distinguishable from reliable peer-review systems.

Given that quality assurance is one of the hallmarks of high-quality and therefore trustworthy academia, the fact that predatory conferences and journals lack any such quality-assurance mechanisms can cause great harm to academia, its credibility and the way it is perceived in society. While the academic results published in this way may well be of a high quality, this quality has ultimately not been confirmed by any neutral review process based on the internal quality-control mechanisms of the Leibniz institutes themselves. This is not in keeping with the rules of good scientific practice, either of the Leibniz Association or in general. By contrast, the deliberate simulation of implementing or making use of quality-assurance measures and procedures (such as peer review, for example) constitutes scientific misconduct.

Predatory journals were nowhere near as common a few years ago as they are now, and there is consequently a corresponding lack of awareness among academics. Within the Leibniz Association, we know of a low two-digit number of such unfortunate publications in previous years – and that out of nearly sixty thousand peer-reviewed publications in total during this period.

In an interview on the German radio station Deutschlandfunk, Klaus Tochtermann, Director of the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (ZBW), explains the extent of the problem not just for academia but also the very mechanisms that ensure the quality, transparency and reliability of academia: