Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Real Cost of Predatory Journals

By Guy Nolch

Predatory journals not only scam genuine scientists, they provide plausible citations that promote pseudoscience.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

This magazine relies in great part on the enthusiasm of scientists to write about their work, putting aside their professional and personal obligations for many hours to write in a style that is far removed from the academic language with which they’re familiar.

Each month I send unsolicited invitations to scientists whose research has twigged my interest, and in most cases they accept – some enthusiastically and others obviously grappling with the demands of their many other commitments. But last month I was taken aback when one scientist’s reply asked whether he would need to pay to be published in Australasian Science? Really? Of course not!

Then I thought back to a rash of emails that had bypassed my junk filtering a few weeks earlier. These emails, formatted in glorious HTML, were calling for submissions of research papers to journals with titles that were very similar to existing publications. The cost of peer review was to be born by the author.

Journals such as these are known as “predatory journals”. These prey on the “publish or perish” mantra that plays a large part in career advancement in science, and this is enabling them to charge thousands of dollars for each paper they publish.

Shouldn’t it be obvious to academics that this is a scam? Not when eminent scientists in their field are named as editors or members of the journal’s...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.