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

A tactical strategy to bypass predatory journals

Prompted by the editorial by Clark and Smith (1) inciting us to take firm action against predatory journals – an almost impossible task though some might approve it – we wish instead to suggest helping researchers in low and middle income countries by giving them a space to publish their articles in open access as peer-reviewed research in reputable scientific journals thus ensuring a wider readership.

This more positive strategy might overcome the problems arising when research papers from low and middle income countries face publication refusals from peer-reviewed journals yet contain scientifically valid evidence that those who conduct independent systematic reviews could otherwise miss.(2,3) In offering to publish well-selected articles from poorer countries, high-impact, reputable journals might also humbly acknowledge that some on occasions have had to retract misconducted, insidious and even dangerous research.(4,5)

Given today's corrupted research environment, another step forward that reputable journals need to take is to improve their control over three barriers that mine scientific integrity, by ensuring that authors honestly and fully publish their study protocol, disclose research funding and all indirect conflicting interests.(6)

The advantages reputable journals might gain by helping researchers from low and middle-income countries, rather than fighting against predatory journals, include making reliable information from these countries available to their readers and broadening their market.(7)

1. Clark J, Smith R. Firm action needed on predatory journals. BMJ 2015;350:h210.
2. Massarrat S, Kolahdoozan S. Critical assessment of progress of medical sciences in Iran and Turkey: the way developing countries with limited resources should make effective contributions to the production of science. Arch Iran Med 2011;14(6):370-7.
3. Gasparyan AY. Choosing the target journal: do authors need a comprehensive approach? J Korean Med Sci 2013;28(8):1117-9.
4. Reuben SS, Buvanendran A. Preventing the development of chronic pain after
orthopaedic surgery with preventive multimodal analgesic techniques. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2007 Jun;89(6):1343-58. Paper officially retracted in: Heckman JD. Retractions. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2009;91(4):965.
5. Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell J, Casson DM, Malik M, Berelowitz M, Dhillon AP, Thomson MA, Harvey P, Valentine A, Davies SE, Walker-Smith JA. Ileal lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 1998; 28(351):637-41. Paper partially retracted in: Editors of The Lancet. Retraction of an interpretation. Lancet 2004;6,363(9411):750. Paper fully retracted in: Editors of The Lancet. Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 2010;6,375:445.
6. Gøtzsche PC Deadly medicine and organized crime. How big pharma has corrupted healthcare. Radcliffe Publishing Ltd. London, UK 2013.
7. Davis PM, Lewenstein BV, Simon DH, Booth JG, Connolly MJ. Open access publishing, article downloads, and citations: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2008;337:a568.

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 January 2015
Paola Rosati
Researcher and hospital paediatrician
Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital IRCCS
Largo S Onofrio 4 00165 Rome Italy