CHC News

Coalition Endorses Joint Position Statement Warning about Predatory Publishing

Aug. 12, 2019 — The Coalition for Healthcare Communication (CHC) endorses the new “Joint Position Statement on Predatory Publishing,” prepared by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), published on July 29 in Current Medical Research and Opinion.

The Joint Position Statement states that “predatory journals pose a serious threat both to researchers publishing the results of their work and to the peer-reviewed medical literature itself.”

“The Coalition stands for the free flow of accurate and credible health information,” explained CHC Executive Director Jon Bigelow.  “Both halves of that mission are important: We oppose improper regulatory impediments to communicating health information, and our members – across the spectrum of health communications – are committed to presenting information that is accurate and non-misleading. A key first step is to base health communications on credible, peer-reviewed research from legitimate journals, not the unvetted and highly questionable contents of the rising number of predatory journals.”

The Joint Position Statement points out that predatory journals do not follow standards for good publication practices endorsed by professional organizations and “intentionally misrepresent practices of editorial and peer review, methods of journal operation, article process charging, dissemination, indexing, and archiving.”

Although details vary, predatory journals typically:

  • Mimic the names and appearance of legitimate journals;
  • Aggressively solicit submissions;
  • Have no peer review process or one that relies entirely on persons chosen by the authors;
  • Provide no information on the location or ownership of the journal;
  • Make false claims about circulation;
  • Ask no questions about author qualifications or conflicts of interest; and
  • Make false claims on indexing and impact factors.

“Predatory journals misrepresent themselves and their business practices to generate revenue by charging authors fees and then publishing almost anything that is submitted,” Bigelow noted. “In effect, this undermines science by allowing unvetted, sometimes inaccurate, and often biased material to be passed off as though it represents legitimate clinical research and scholarly discussion.”

The significance of these scam journals is growing. In 2017 the World Association of Medical Editors estimated there were at least 8,000 predatory journals, and that the total number of articles published had increased from 53,000 in 2010 to 420,000 in 2014. When these articles are then cited in later publications, curricula vitae, indices, searches and research reports, it becomes difficult for others to distinguish them from articles that have appeared in legitimate journals following more exacting peer review and editorial processes.

The Joint Position Statement warns authors not to treat predatory journals as vehicles for enhancing their own record of publication, and urges them to do due diligence by “examining the reputation of the publications to which they submit, and send their work only to those journals that provide proper peer review and that genuinely seek to contribute to the scientific literature.”