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Business & Education Professional Development

Here Be Monsters

The advancements of the “Information Age” have made it easy to distribute intellectual property such as research reports. Many publishers have moved to an open access (OA) model, in which the authors of the research report pay for publication and retain the copyright. Thereby, the publishers recover the lost revenue of selling reprints, while the research is accessible for all, including scientists in developing nations. These OA journals, many of which are online-only, have reduced production costs, creating the opportunity for many new start-up journals, some based in developing nations.

It’s a common scenario. You receive a request to submit a paper to a journal you have never heard of, that has nothing to do with your area of research or publication record. Usually not mentioned in the invite is the publication fee that is involved. In some cases, the editor can be quite forceful, as with the example below, which I received last year:

“As per previous conversation I am eagerly looking for your submission, but yet I have not received that. So I humbly request you to submit your eminent submission at the earliest possibility. In fact I have only few days to reach my goal.”

There had been no previous conversation, and the grammar is poor – both giveaway clues that I was being stalked by a predatory publisher.

You may also receive an invite to an editorial board of a journal or be asked to edit a special issue. In one case, a journal recruited an editor for a special issue on chemometrics. The special issue, which was supposed to have no publication charges for the submitted papers, was never published – all the submitted papers were rejected without review by the editor in chief.

Before agreeing to submit anything to a journal you haven’t worked with previously, check out their website and editorial board thoroughly, and read a few papers from past issues.

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About the Author

Peter de Boves Harrington

Peter de Boves Harrington is based at the Ohio University Center for Intelligent Chemical Instrumentation, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Athens, Ohio, USA.

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