A consensus definition of predatory journals (2)

10 January, 2020

Dear Neil,

I have followed the discussion on predatory publishing in HIFA, and have also seen the publication that resulted from the discussions. I have been privileged to publish on the subject, and have also been involved in discussions on the subject. In 2016, the Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) inthe United States initiated discussions on the subject matter and I was part of the forum. OSI defined predatory publishing thus: “Deceptive publishing is a practice whereby a company creates a journal on false pretenses for the purposes of defrauding authors, helping authors deceive their colleagues, or both.”

I compared this definition with the definition provided in Nature (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03759-y), and I have my reservations about this definition: "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".

What is the meaning of ‘self-interest’ in Nature’s definition? Whatever we mean by self-interest, are we saying that there is no self-interest in the activities of big publishers who paywall scholarly papers, and that this business model is not at the expense of scholarship? Appreciating my question will require viewing open access from the perspective of inclusionism and openness in research publishing. Big publishers’ business interest lead them to placing of publications beyond the reach of the poor, thereby hampering global innovation and knowledge flow– this is a universally accepted motive for open access. What exactly is meant by “best editorial and publication practices”? Is there any explanation? Some of the issues that are often mentioned in respect of best editorial and publication practices are exotic, for instance quality of English language, digital archiving. Open access is about flow of human knowledge.

Nature’s definition appears to endorse the observation that the appellation- predatory publishing is neoliberal, aimed at downing new apprenticeship publishing practices in the developing areas.

Please see my papers on the subject below:

1. Williams Nwagwu and Obinna Ojemeni. (2015). Penetrationof Nigerian Predatory Biomedical Open Access Journals 2007–2012: A Bibliometric Study.

Learned Publishing Vol. 28.No. 1: 23–34.  

2. Williams E. Nwagwu. (2015). Counterpoints about Predatory Open Access and Knowledge Publishing in Africa. Learned Publishing Vol. 28. No. 2: 1-12.  

3. NwagwuW (2016). Open Access in the Developing Regions: Situating the Altercations about Predatory Publishing

Canadian Journal of Library and Information Science 40(1):58-80.

4. NwagwuWilliams (2019). Knowledge Production Ethos and Open Access Publishing: Africain Focus. Canadian Journal of Library and Information Science. Volume 42, Numbers 3-4, September-December 2019, pp. 249-277.

HIFA profile: Williams Nwagwu teaches Informetrics and other quantitative applications in Information Science at the Africa Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS), University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Dr Nwagwu is on the editorial board, as well as the being the Editor (ICT, Africa) of the World Review of Science and Technology for Sustainable Development (WRSTSD, http://www.inderscience.com/browse/index.php?journalCODE=wrstsd), a journal of the World Association for Sustainable Development located in University of Sussex in England.

Email: willieezi AT yahoo.com