Not All Scientific Journals Are Created Equal: Beware of Predatory Publishers
Usually I delete emails like the one I received recently, but this one got me thinking. It was addressed to one of my predecessors, and invited her to publish a paper in a journal on patient care and nursing. The message said, “We believe that your invaluable experience and insights as a scholar in the area will be enlightening to our readers.”
Well, the former CEO of the Academy did indeed have “invaluable experience,” just not in the areas of patient care or nursing, at least to my knowledge.
What really piqued my interest in this email is how it highlights the growing concern of predatory journals. A few clicks into this publisher’s website, and I quickly see the journal — headquartered in China — charges authors a fee to be published, the very definition of a pay-to-publish operation.
I turned to a well-known listing of predatory journals, the “Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers” (https://beallslist.weebly.com/). Sure enough, this publisher was on the list.
A March 2017 article in the journal NATURE detailed how predatory journals operate. “Thousands of academic journals do not aspire to quality,” states the article. “They exist primarily to extract fees from authors. These ‘predatory’ journals exhibit questionable marketing schemes, follow lax or non-existent peer-review procedures and fail to provide scientific rigour or transparency.”
The email I received was a textbook case of this unfortunate phenomenon. But the email also got me thinking about the hard work of legitimate journals. In managed care pharmacy, fortunately, researchers can publish their work in several well respected journals, not the least of which is our very own Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy (JMCP).
I couldn’t be prouder of the work that the staff and volunteers of JMCP do each month. The publication has gained status as one of the top-flight journals for publishing research on population health and managed care pharmacy topics. One way to tell a journal’s status is through its “journal impact factor,” which measures the yearly average number of citations that journal receives in other publications. An impact factor is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field.
The publisher that was soliciting my predecessor’s paper acknowledged that none of its journals had an impact factor. I am happy to report that JMCP had a 2016 impact factor of 2.52, up from 2.32 in 2015, meaning the average article published in JMCP in 2016 was cited 2.5 times by other researchers, and placing JMCP near the top 20 percent of journals. JMCP also is PubMed Indexed and ranked No. 26 out of 90 health policy journals. And perhaps most important of all, our journal has a clear and transparent peer-review process with an editorial staff and board comprised of top experts in managed care pharmacy.
JMCP Editor-in-Chief Laura E. Happe, PharmD, MPH, says, “The pay-to-publish model can seem like a profitable business model, but it’s not sustainable. Academicians will not achieve tenure based on publications in these types of journals. Healthcare policies won’t be changed on the basis of research published in journals without a sound peer-review process. I think the current plethora of predatory journals will be short-lived. Science and ethics will prevail.”
Agreed! I personally know many of the researchers who publish in JMCP. They are some of the brightest minds in our field who will continue to turn to JMCP as the premier destination for their articles. I’m not worried that managed care pharmacy researchers would be duped by a bogus journal solicitation. But it’s still worth pointing out that bad actors are afoot looking for unsuspecting researchers. Take care! Next time I get one of these solicitations, I’ll hit the delete button.