The open-access model has changed the landscape of academic publishing over the last 20 years. An unfortunate consequence has been the advent of predatory publishing, which exploits the open-access model for monetary gain by collecting publishing fees from authors under the pretense of being a legitimate publication while providing little-to-no peer review. This study aims to investigate the predatory publishing phenomenon in orthopaedic literature.
We searched Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers and another list of predatory journals for journal titles that are possibly related to orthopaedics. We then searched their web sites for the following information: total number of articles published, journal country of origin, author country of origin, article processing charge (APC), quoted review time, and location of the listed headquarters. We also reported the article quality of a random sample of these journals. We consulted InCites Journal Citation Reports to determine the number of nonpredatory orthopaedic publications that are indexed, and we manually searched a random sample of these legitimate journals for Beall’s criteria. Additionally, we searched the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and PubMed databases for any possible predatory journal titles.
We found 104 suspected predatory publishers, representing 225 possible predatory journals. One journal was indexed in the DOAJ, and 20 were indexed in PubMed. Review time was not identified for 56.2% of the journals, and 36.5% quoted a review time of <1 month. Nearly half of the listed addresses of the publishers were either unsearchable or led to residential or empty lots. Eighty-two legitimate journals were identified. The median APC was $420 for predatory journals and $2,900 for legitimate journals. We found that a random sample of the legitimate journals published studies with higher reporting standards, but a few also contained 1 criterion that is found on Beall’s list.
This study highlights the scope of orthopaedic predatory publishing. Possibly predatory journals outnumber legitimate orthopaedic journals. Orthopaedic surgeons should be aware of the suspected predatory journals and consult available online tools to identify them because distinguishing them from legitimate journals can be a challenge.