Everyone agrees that predatory publishers sow confusion, promote shoddy scholarship and waste resources. What is needed is consensus on a definition of predatory journals. This would provide a reference point for research into their prevalence and influence, and would help in crafting coherent interventions.
The consensus definition reached by the authors of the paper:
Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.
Further details of the main concepts in the definition are included in the article.
Note: Some parts of this article were cross-posted at OpenPhysio, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal with a focus on physiotherapy education. If you’re doing interesting work in the classroom, even if you have no experience in publishing educational research, we’d like to help you share your stories.
I’m really excited to announce a new project that I’ve been working on together with the folks at Physiopedia. Today we’re launching an open access, peer reviewed journal with a focus on physiotherapy education, with a few features that we think are pretty innovative in the academic publishing space. The journal is called OpenPhysio and represents what we think is a fundamental shift away from traditional ways of thinking about how we share knowledge.
Here are some of the ways we think the journal is different to more traditional publication channels:
Immediate publication. Your article is available to the public almost immediately after submission.
Peer review is open and transparent. Authors work together with peer reviewers, and the reviews and author responses are published alongside the final article, together with DOIs that make them citable objects.
You retain your intellectual property at no cost. OpenPhysio does not require you to transfer copyright to the journal, and there are no page fees for published articles.
Articles are first class internet citizens. Your articles can be enhanced with images, audio, tagging, hyperlinks, and video.
We’re still in the early stages of the project (we have no publications yet) and there’s a lot still to iron out, but we’ve decided to make it public nonetheless. This is in line with our broader thinking about publication, which is to share stuff early and then hash it out in the real world. We have Editorial and Advisory Boards and you can have a look at our policies around open access and peer review.
Now, before you write and tell me that there’s no such thing as physiotherapy education (you’d be right, by the way) we want to be clear that this is a journal aimed at physiotherapists with an emphasis on teaching and learning. it’s not about suggesting that the way physiotherapists learn is somehow different to how nurses, physicians and OTs learn. But we do think that there’s a space to explore our context in ways that may not translate well into other domains.
We want to encourage submissions from physios who are interested in learning more about teaching and learning, whether you’re supervising students or less-experienced colleagues in the clinical and community contexts, or if you’re an academic responsible for teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate classrooms. If you’re interested in teaching and learning in a physiotherapy context, we’d love it if you would consider OpenPhysio as a channel to share your ideas.
If you’d like to know more about the journal, please contact the Editor or visit the website.
About a month ago I submitted an article to an international journal that I thought might be appropriate. Unfortunately I didn’t pay enough attention to the scope of the journal, which ultimately is why the paper was rejected. Having your work rejected is always disappointing but not always a bad thing. The letter I received in response from the editor was in some sense motivational and I reproduce it below:
“Thank you for submitting your manuscript to [journal name]. Although I read your manuscript with interest, I am sorry to say that it falls outside the scope of the journal. A quote from the aims and scope of the journal: “From the perspective of external validity, it is critical that authors place their study in a theoretical and empirical context. [Journal name] has no page limit, in order that each paper can be accompanied by a critical review of related research, and the discussion can highlight how the study findings add to knowledge. Authors are encouraged to explore their study from multiple analytical perspectives, to include multiple converging studies if possible, and to specifically state how the study findings add to knowledge in the field. Again, from the perspective of educational importance, studies of a single course or program with weak evidence of effectiveness, such as student ratings, are discouraged as they are unlikely to add to generalizable knowledge, unless the study permits empirical test of theoretical predictions.”
The outcomes of your study are based on students preferences or wishes. There are no data from other sources. There is nothing wrong with that kind of study. Doing research however is more than answering questions on how well you like or do certain things. We all know that generalizations from this kind of research are difficult, to say the least. Author guidelines for [journal name] explicitly state that we will not consider studies where the only outcome is persons opinion or perception.
Please understand me well. This is not a bad story. The study is conducted very well. The methodology used is sound. The study will certainly contribute to more insight. In addition, it is nicely written. However, [journal name] is a global journal and our readers are interested in educational theories: how they advance learning.
We receive more papers than we can accept. At this moment I send less than 50% of the submitted manuscripts out for review. This means that we have to take difficult decisions based on originality, importance and academic rigor. I am sorry we cannot find space for your paper.
Thank you for considering [journal name]”
I couldn’t go back and rewrite the article within the context of a theoretical framework, as the study hadn’t been designed with that in mind, and I don’t like the idea of trying to force an idea into something it was never meant to be. So, I looked around for another journal, found one that I thought was more appropriate and re-submitted.
What I learned through this experience was:
Make sure that I submit to the right journal (It’s difficult to decide what “right” means in this sense)
Having an article rejected doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any value
Every writing experience should also be a learning experience
Publishing research results is a process, and each step in the process has potential to inform your next publication
I now have the goal of embedding my research results within a theoretical framework, insofar as this possible within the scope of the article. This has already paid off in terms of pushing me to design stronger methods from the outset, which can only be a good thing.
I attended a short seminar a few months ago that reviewed the academic publication process. At the time I thought it was reasonably informative and useful. Now, after having spent a bit more time thinking about the nature of formal, academic publication, I wonder if there isn’t a better, more efficient way to distribute new knowledge? The seminar seemed to revolve around an aging notion of what it means to be a credible researcher / author, with the main contention being that you must publish in accredited journals and that no other form of knowledge dissemination is as credible.
Over the past few months however, my own ideas of what constitutes a reasonable contribution to the body of knowledge have shifted from that older model to one in which a more informal method plays a central role. Is it really necessary to publish in “acceptable” journals to be taken seriously, or can one use other forms of publication, for example blogs? I’m not sure yet. Can you generate new (or modified) ideas and put them out there to be judged by your peers? Will the good content / ideas rise and evolve (through user input), while bad ones get relegated to the pile of fossils that didn’t quite make it? I think they will and yet, in order for me to be taken seriously as an academic (at least for now), I’m encouraged to avoid alternative forms of distributing academic content.
Anyway, those were a few thoughts that went through my head while I re-read my notes. We began by looking at the differences between a conference presentation and journal publication:
“Soft” review – one person reads your abstract to decide if you can present
No referee feedback – the abstract is either accepted or it’s not, there’s no suggestions to improve
No quality control – who decides if the study was well conducted?
Therefore presentations have little value for an academic
Note: only invited keynote speakers have real academic relevance, as they’re recognised as leaders in the field
Strict refereeing (one or several) means that the survey must contribute to the body of knowledge, can be extended / strengthened through feedback and is seen to be based on evidence through appropriate references
Only accepted after attention has been paid to reviewers comments
There is strict quality control
It was advised that only works in progress be presented at conferences, and that if the study is complete, results should rather be written up as an article.
In terms of selecting a journal, consider which publications cover your area, and give preference to international journals or those approved by the university. Review the authors guidelines for publication in that journal and follow them strictly.
As far as choosing authors, they must be involved in the academic content of the article. In other words, research assistants, data capturers, field workers, etc. should not be given authorship. Authors should be listed in terms of the greatest contribution.
In terms of addressing reviewers comments:
Remember that comments are not personal and that they’re there to strengthen your paper
Re-read the comments when you remember that they’re not personal (they won’t seem nearly as bad)
Address every point the reviewer made, bearing in mind that once addressed, you’re done with them. They can’t add new comments when it’s sent back.
And finally, ownership of the copyright must be transferred to the journal. From then on, you may only use your own paper for personal use.