31 May 2019

Marthie van Niekerk

During April 2019, the Canadian Centre for Journalology, based at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, convened a global summit focused on the issue of predatory publishing. Prof Johann Mouton, CREST Director, and Marthie van Niekerk, CREST Centre Manager, were among the 40 experts, researchers, funders and publishers from around the globe invited to participate in the event. At this Centre, Dr David Moher and his colleagues run an active program investigating predatory journals and publishers. They describe the field of journalology as ‘publication science’ and run an active program investigating predatory journals and publishers.

The meeting achieved a core goal, namely working towards consensus on the definition of a predatory journal. The final definition is currently being fine-tuned amongst all the participants.

Participants also agreed on the need for pro-active, continuous and global monitoring of predatory publishing. Further work will be done to clarify the mandate, structure and funding required for such a virtual predatory publishing observatory.

In the meantime, it is clear that a ‘one-stop’ online resource for prospective authors and others involved in scholarly publishing could go a long way towards helping scholars avoid the pitfalls of predatory publishing. All summit participants were keen to help provide and consolidate relevant materials and agreed that the materials must be made available in multiple languages. Two organisations have expressed an interest in hosting such a one-stop resource, and their proposals are currently being reviewed.

As a first step, the participants will join forces to develop a so-called ‘journal authenticator’, which will make use of a responsive browser plug-in for commonly used browsers and a backend server conceptually similar to electronic ‘doughnuts’ already in existence (e.g., Altmetrics). The data used in the journal authenticator doughnut will be based on publication standards (e.g., member of COPE) and could be used as a tool to authenticate the likelihood that a specific journal is predatory (or not).