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What is a fake journal?

Recognizing a predatory journal or a fake journal is not always easy, says Dr. Rini de Crom, head of Erasmus MC's department for Education and Research.

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It is a known fact that certain journals charge thousands of dollars to have scientific articles published, without thoroughly reviewing them. Over 1,200 of these journals are online, according to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant and research collective ICIJ.

These fake media are usually operated from countries as India, China and Turkey. The publishers make money from researchers looking for ways to publish their work. No one checks the contents. Genuine journals have several reviews done by experts. Fake journals are open access, open to read and consult without costs. To complicate matters, a lot of renowned journals are open access as well.

The problem with predatory journals is the spreading of scientific information that has not been properly reviewed, possibly containing erroneous conclusions. If other researchers use this for their own research, this leads to unreliable medical information.

De Crom: "Experienced researchers will always refrain from publishing in fake journals, as this can harm their reputation. Following the recent publicity on this subject, we wish to warn researchers for these fraudulent practices."

Jeffrey Beall, an American librarian, has made a list of fake journals, the so called Beall's List. Fake media can also be recognized by checking for the following criteria.

Be alarmed when:
- The online journal does not mention any clear location or address, only an email
- There is no clear explanation about the review process nor a list of criteria for entries.
- It is not clear who is on the editorial board, reviewing manuscripts and articles.
- The editorial board consists of very famous researchers.
- Correspondence to researchers has spelling mistakes or is extremely flattering.
- The website looks like the website from a renowned publisher.
- Costs of publication are not clarified.
- Colleagues do not know the journal.
- The journal is not listed on DOAJ, a list of reliable open access journals.

Date published: 10 August 2018.

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