Ellie Downes, Research Librarian, at Swansea University, shared this case study with us. You can also read Ellie’s earlier blog where she shared her tips for researchers and librarians.
Six key issues
On the face of it, the email invites an academic to publish their work and to be a member of the editorial board. However, there are issues that make me question the validity of the journal:
- The ISSNs at the top of the email do not match the bibliographic databases. I searched these databases including Sherpa Romeo and Scopus.
- The email is not addressed to a specific academic. The address line is copied directly from the article information with the surname and initial of the author.
- The email mentions being impressed with a previous article, but it does not give any specifics about what was impressive about it.
- In the invitation to join the Editorial Board, the email states that the academic’s background would make them ‘highly appreciated’. However, it doesn’t state what exactly it is about the academic background that would make this so. The publisher addressed the email to all authors.
- The email includes the title and abstract of the academic’s most recent paper for no discernible reason.
- There is no name or contact details of the sender of the email. ‘Assistant Editor’ gives no named contact to enquire about the journal or to ask about the issues I have highlighted.
These issues were enough for me to be suspicious and check the publisher further.
The website seemed professional in layout and presentation and they published on a wide range of topics. However, the email claims the journal is indexed by several Abstracting and Indexing databases. I had not heard of some of these, so I clicked the links. Some of the links were broken, and some other successful links were to pages that appeared not to have been updated since the early 2000s and I reverted to being sceptical.
To explore further, I selected several members of the editorial board to search. Many had fewer than 5 publications to their name, although this is not always an indication that a person is not credible. On staff pages, many did not say they were members of the editorial board. This could suggest that they are unaware that their names, faces, and reputations are being used.
My advice to the academic was to avoid the journal or to ask further questions. These questions could include is the journal open access, if so what are the costs. These should always be clearly stated.
However, the excellent website design did give me pause for thought. Identifying Predatory journals is not an exact science. This is why a straightforward checklist like Think. Check. Submit. can help support your recommendation to an academic and give you a framework to make your decisions.