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In some cases they are lying about who they are and what they’re doing; in others, they are promising to do or provide something in return for payment, and then, once payment is received, not doing or providing what they promised.
Some focus their deceptive practices on authors, some on readers, and some on both.
This is perhaps the largest category of deceptive publisher, and also one of the more controversial ones, since the line between dishonesty and simple ineptitude or organic mediocrity can be fuzzy.
For this reason, it makes sense to exercise caution in ascribing deceptive intent to these journals; however, in many cases (such as those that falsely claim to have an Impact Factor, that lie about their peer-review processes, or that falsely claim editorial board members), deceptive intent can be quite clear. These are scam operators that set up websites designed to trick the unwary into believing that they are submitting their work to legitimate existing journals—sometimes by “hijacking” the exact title of the real journal, and sometimes by concocting a new title that varies from the legitimate one only very slightly. This looks like a variety of hijacking, except that there is no actual hijackee.
Deceivers are doing more than just running their journals badly or failing to attract high-quality content.Deceptive monograph publishing seems to me much less of an issue, and I won’t address it here.At the other end of the importance spectrum, my colleague Phill Jones has also recently brought up the issue of predatory conferences, which I believe is very important–enough so that I think it merits a separate discussion. These are journals that falsely claim to offer to the reading public documents based on legitimate and dispassionate scientific or scholarly inquiry.In an earlier posting, I suggested that the term “predatory publishing” has perhaps become too vague and subjective to be useful, and I suggested “bad faith” as a possible replacement term.But in light of the subsequent discussion in the comments section of that posting and after continuing to think about the issue, I’d like to suggest another alternative to “predatory,” one that offers more precision and usefulness: “deceptive.” Deception, it seems to me, is the common thread that binds all of the behaviors that are most commonly cited as “predatory” in journal publishing, and I think it’s the most meaningful and appropriate criterion for placing a publisher on a blacklist.
Whitelists are good and important, but they serve a very different purpose.