To the Editor:
Today, scientific societies and scholarly communities are more unequivocally determined to fight “peer review fraud” than ever.1–3 Predatory publishers publish any article for a fee, but do not adhere to the high standards of typical peer-reviewed scholarly publications. We believe that fraudulent scientific publication processes, despite of all their ramifications, can have positive consequences—namely, bringing researchers and academic institutions together to remove the highly prolific “false data tumor” from the body of knowledge and science.
As a robust and holistic solution, we strongly believe that researchers and their employers should be equally educated on how to win the war against organized predatory publishing. We propose the following bilateral intervention that includes both employers and employees of academic institutions.
First, for employees (i.e., researchers and faculty at academic institutions), we recommend the following approach to choose the right journal and/or publisher for one’s scholarly work:
- Conduct a multisource and systematic search to critically evaluate the quality of a journal by referring to the Thompson Reuters Web site for ISI indexing; exploring the journal’s details on databases such as PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Scopus, etc.; and examining the journal’s publisher, publishing history, classification, and rankings using the SCImago Journal & Country Rank portal.
- Complete a critical appraisal of a journal before submitting a manuscript by assessing the academic profile of the editorial team, the scope of the journal, its impact factor, and other parameters of quality such as h-index, the reviewers’ comments on published manuscripts, etc.
Second, for employers (i.e., research and academic institutions), not only should they be well aware of predatory journals, puppet reviewers, and fraudulent publishers, but they also may need to rethink their policies on putting a high premium on the quantity of manuscripts published by their employees. The very basic concept of supply and demand has been one of the main reasons for the existence and success of predatory publishers. Employers should shift their focus away from the quantity of publications among faculty and also should closely monitor scientific publishing processes. We strongly believe that the war against fraudulent publishing is winnable, provided that employers and researchers are united to safeguard and uphold the quality of published manuscripts. Above all, publication should be a tool to disseminate new knowledge for benefiting mankind.
Syed Shahzad Hasan, PhD
Lecturer, School of Pharmacy, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Keivan Ahmadi, PhD
Senior lecturer, School of Pharmacy, University of Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom; [email protected]
1. Feltman R. “Fraudulent” peer review strikes another academic publisher; 32 articles questioned. Washington Post. July 8, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/07/08/fraudulent-peer-review-strikes-another-academic-publisher-32-articles-questioned/
. Accessed January 20, 2016.
2. Rahman S, Baumgartner MR, Morava E, Patterson M, Peters V, Zschocke J. Peer review fraud—It’s not big and it’s not clever. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2016;39:12.
3. Haug CJ. Peer-review fraud—Hacking the scientific publication process. N Engl J Med. 2015;373:23932395.