Unmasked: Predatory Publishers in Orthopaedics

It’s been more than a year since OrthoBuzz revisited the topic of predatory publishing (see related OrthoBuzz articles), but the comprehensive “Orthopaedic Forum” about this unsavory subject in the November 7, 2018 issue of JBJS warrants our attention.

In a meticulous investigation focused just on orthopaedic literature, Yan et al. found 104 suspected predatory publishers, representing 225 possible predatory journals. That’s nearly 3 times as many bogus publications as the 82 legitimate orthopaedic journals that the authors also identified. Somewhat disturbingly, 20 of the presumably predatory journals were also found to be indexed in PubMed.

The median article processing charge (APC) among predatory journals was $420, compared with $2,900 for legitimate journals. (Lower APCs tend to lure more researchers—especially younger ones—into the scams.) The most prevalent countries of origin of the predatory journals were India, the US, and the UK, while most of the authors publishing in predatory journals were from India, the US, the UK, and Japan. Predatory publishers are clearly taking advantage of the widespread pressure on researchers to publish as an avenue for career advancement.

The authors reiterate previously cited “red flags” that can tip off researchers to possibly predatory journals:

    • Very low article processing fees
    • Spelling and grammatical errors on the journal’s website
    • Overly broad scope
    • Language that targets authors more than readers
    • Promises of rapid publication
    • Dearth of information about copyright, retraction policies, or digital preservation

Yan et al. conclude that “ the scientific community needs to increase awareness of how to identify and avoid predatory journals. This is especially important for junior researchers…”

If you want more information about specific predatory journals, see Table II of the article (“List of Suspected Predatory Journals in the Field of Orthopaedics”), which includes the criteria that prompted the authors to categorize them as predatory.

Jason Miller, JBJS Executive Publisher
Lloyd Resnick, JBJS Developmental Editor

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