Intended for healthcare professionals


Firm action needed on predatory journals

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 17 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h210
  1. Jocalyn Clark, executive editor and assistant professor of medicine12,
  2. Richard Smith, chair13
  1. 1 International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh
  2. 2 University of Toronto, Canada
  3. 3Patients Know Best, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Clark j.clark{at}

They’re harming researchers in low and middle income countries most, but everyone must fight back

The rapid rise of predatory journals—publications taking large fees without providing robust editorial or publishing services—has created what some have called an age of academic racketeering.1 Predatory journals recruit articles through aggressive marketing and spam emails, promising quick review and open access publication for a price. There is little if any quality control and virtually no transparency about processes and fees. Their motive is financial gain, and they are corrupting the communication of science. Their main victims are institutions and researchers in low and middle income countries, and the time has come to act rather than simply to decry them.

Unfortunately, predatory publishing is often confused with open access publishing, whereby studies are free to all and can be reused for many purposes. Legitimate open access publishing—which has widely benefited scientific communication—uses all the professional and ethical practices associated with the best science publishing. Predatory publishing upholds few if any of the best practices yet demands payment for publishing. Under traditional models of publishing librarians were sophisticated purchasers of subscriptions, but in this new model many individual researchers are unable to distinguish between reputable and predatory …

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