OSI brief on deceptive publishing

A summary statement on the scope and practices of dubious publishers and journals has been published by The Open Scholarship Initiative; an organisation made of a number of representatives from commercial publishers, government policy bodies, research institutes, scholarly societies and university/library publishers.

From the choice of the term ‘deceptive’ instead of ‘predatory’ onwards, the OSI Brief: Deceptive publishing provides an even-handed, detailed assessment of the important and troubling issues associated with this sub-set of publishing practices.

The paper considers how this situation has come about, examines exactly what these publishers deceive the research community about and address who is harmed in the process. The paper gives suggestions of the work which needs to be done, including black and white lists (the effectiveness of which a recent paper examined in some detail), and education across research communities.

Perhaps the weakest part of the paper is the attempt to define four types of deceptive publisher. All include characteristics which overlap each other, and which could be evident in legitimate journals too.

Pseudo-scholarly journals – those which falsely claim to offer authors genuine editorial services such as peer review or indexing credentials,
False-flag journals – journals which copy the name, website design and other features of a legitimate journal to trick authors into thinking it is the real deal,
Masqueraders – journals which appear high quality, fitting the image of high-profile legitimate journals, and
Phony journals – journals which pretend to offer unbiased research, but are a marketing tool for invested interests.

Nevertheless, this article is another step towards crystallising what these journals do, or do not do to undermine scientific integrity and trust in journal publishing, and as the authors mention in the abstract themselves, the thematic issues of deceptive publishing are easier to define than the precise details.