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Research support

Helping you to undertake and publish your research, and maximise its impact.

A case at Cranfield

Here is a real example of a Cranfield researcher’s experience of predatory publishing – how would you react if you received a message like this?

The researcher contacted his librarian for advice as he had a bad feeling about the email. He was right to be concerned, for a number of reasons:

  • An obvious mismatch in disciplines. The journal claims to be about molecular biology whereas his area of expertise is in computer simulation and modelling.
  • The journal web page showed that the journal was not indexed by the main academic indexes of Web of Science or Scopus and did not appear in Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports. This is not necessarily a reason to distrust a journal, but it can be an indicator of low calibre. 
  • An examination of the citations of one of the most cited articles in the journal showed that a large number came from the same few papers, some of the links were not working, and often linked to sources of low standing. 
  • An examination of the journal’s archives showed irregular numbers of articles within issues, with the same few authors appearing repeatedly within the journal.
  • Signs that a peer review process has not been rigorous – the journal claims it has a peer review process which done properly can take quite a few months. The librarian spotted several obvious errors in the text which showed that proof-reading had not been carried out, and the speed of the publication process from receipt to acceptance to publication was a matter of a few weeks.
  • An editorial board whose members had not published in the journal themselves.
  • The journal is published by SCIRP which has been the source of controversy in previous years for duplicating papers that have been published elsewhere, without notification of or permission from the original authors. It is claimed that all the articles of one issue of a particular SCIRP journal – Psychology - had been previously published, some almost a decade before.

Unsurprisingly, after the diligent work of the librarian, the researcher decided not to respond to the publisher!