An email I received this morning momentarily pleased me: I was being invited to submit to a journal called the American Journal of Education Research a version of a presentation I recently delivered at the annual conference of the Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association.
But then I noticed some odd grammatical errors in the email. My suspicions raised, I went to the journal’s website, and then to the website of its publisher, Science and Education Publishing. On the surface, everything looked legit: the 70 journals published by Science and Education Publishing all have hundreds of articles written by academics from all over the world. Each journal also claims to be peer-reviewed, and provides a list of its peer reviewers. But then I came across a tab that explained the “processing fees” that an author must pay in order to have his or her paper considered for publication.
A bit more sleuthing revealed that Science and Education Publishing (and all of its subsidiary journals) are considered by the scholarly community to be “predatory” publishers – that is, they are bogus. They even invent journal names that are easily confused with legitimate journals. For example, the American Journal of Educational Research appears to be trying to ride on the coattails of the American Educational Research Journal, published by the highly regarded Sage Journals.
On the one hand, I wasn’t surprised by all this, as I’d recently read an article about a Canadian journal called Experimental and Clinical Cardiology that used to be legitimate, but which has been lately purchased by an offshore corporation that has turned it into a predatory publisher. But what I was surprised by was how much digging I had to do to confirm that Science and Education Publishing journals are bogus. As a former English professor, I was usually able to detect plagiarism in seconds – and I guess I thought that that skill would transfer over into the realm of fake journals.
Anyway, there are apparently hundreds or even thousands of bogus “academic” journals out there. Here’s helpful a list that’s published annually by a librarian at the University of Colorado.
What I’m still unclear about is this: are the academics who publish in these predatory journals being duped? Or are they knowing participants in this ruse? Is the market for academic research so saturated that even bona fide articles by good scholars can’t find publication in legitimate journals?