Predatory Publishing: From “Fake Academia” to Real Extortion in Scholarly Publishing

March 22, 2017
Brandon Butler

Have you ever received an unsolicited email from a publisher you’ve never heard of inviting you to submit a paper to a journal with a generic-but-believable-sounding name or a conference abroad or at an airport hotel? These publishers may advertise their journals as “open access” and promise to make your work visible to well-known indices; they may claim “impact factors” and editorial board members who are leaders in their field. All that’s required of you is a modest fee—an “author’s processing charge”—and these publishers can deliver the lifeblood of any academic career: a peer-reviewed publication. There’s just one catch: the journals are fake.

These journals are labeled “predatory,” and they are sometimes associated with the broader open-access movement. This Medical Center Hour tours the strange world of predatory publishing and describes some of its more outrageous excesses. But, as Brandon Butler will argue, the fake journals are just a distraction. The academy today faces more serious challenges as it wrestles with how best to share research and knowledge. How should academia confront the predatory moves of its most well-established publishing partners and take better advantage of open access?

A John F. Anderson Memorial Lecture