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26-Nov-2019 05:29

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Furthermore, “deception” is (unlike “predation”) a concept with a fairly clear and unambiguous meaning in this context.

One note up front: this posting will focus on deceptive journal publishing.

This is perhaps the largest category of deceptive publisher, and also one of the more controversial ones, since the line between dishonesty and simple ineptitude or organic mediocrity can be fuzzy.

For this reason, it makes sense to exercise caution in ascribing deceptive intent to these journals; however, in many cases (such as those that falsely claim to have an Impact Factor, that lie about their peer-review processes, or that falsely claim editorial board members), deceptive intent can be quite clear. These are scam operators that set up websites designed to trick the unwary into believing that they are submitting their work to legitimate existing journals—sometimes by “hijacking” the exact title of the real journal, and sometimes by concocting a new title that varies from the legitimate one only very slightly. This looks like a variety of hijacking, except that there is no actual hijackee.

In an earlier posting, I suggested that the term “predatory publishing” has perhaps become too vague and subjective to be useful, and I suggested “bad faith” as a possible replacement term.

But in light of the subsequent discussion in the comments section of that posting and after continuing to think about the issue, I’d like to suggest another alternative to “predatory,” one that offers more precision and usefulness: “deceptive.” Deception, it seems to me, is the common thread that binds all of the behaviors that are most commonly cited as “predatory” in journal publishing, and I think it’s the most meaningful and appropriate criterion for placing a publisher on a blacklist.

Whitelists are good and important, but they serve a very different purpose.

It’s also an issue that is clouded by the fact that raising prices is not, in itself, necessarily unethical (unlike deception, which is).

Among other things, it acts as a check on the whitelist—consider, for example, the fact that just over 900 questionable journals were included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (currently the most reputable and well-known OA whitelist on the scene) until its recent housecleaning and criteria-tightening.