All that glitters is not gold: predatory journals may be open access, but not openly accessible

Tags: Poster
Le J1, Qureshi R1, Rosman L1, Scherer R1, Li T1
1Cochrane Eyes and Vision, United States Satellite; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


'Non-predatory' journals are traditionally viewed as contributing to a symbiotic relationship where both publishers and authors benefit through financial gain and academic reward. 'Predatory' journals, however, are often viewed differently; we refer to persistent solicitation of articles from authors and misrepresentation of editorial practices such as peer review and bibliographic indexing. A concern in the Cochrane Eyes and Vision, US Satellite (CEV@US) is whether being published in 'predatory' journals impacts accessibility of trial results to systematic reviewers.


To characterize potentially predatory journals that have solicited articles from staff at CEV@US.


From 1 November 2017 to 30 November 2017, eight CEV@US staff[1] forwarded unsolicited email invitations to publish eyes and vision research to a common inbox. Two authors (JL, RQ) independently extracted information from each invitation and internet websites; we resolved extraction discrepancies through discussion. Data extracted included journal name; publisher; whether the journal could be found in PubMed; whether the journal was indexed in MEDLINE or Embase; whether the journal had published clinical trials and systematic reviews; and other items, as of 25 February 2018. We summarized extracted characteristics.


We received 120 unsolicited invitations from 42 'predatory' journals. All journals described themselves as open access and peer-reviewed (Table). No journals were indexed in MEDLINE or Embase, but 19% (8/42) had citations in PubMed. We found that 12% (5/42) and 14% (6/42) had published at least one clinical trial or systematic review.


'Predatory' journals are typically not found in bibliographic databases and are difficult to access. While 'predatory' journals may allow more research to be published, we do not yet know the risks of bias and clarity of reporting. Since searching and quality of reporting are important components of systematic reviews, articles in 'predatory' journals may influence clinical care. Our next steps include investigating whether CEV@US systematic reviews include trials published in 'predatory' journals and evaluating the risk of bias of those trials.

Consumer involvement:

We are contacting consumers to collect their thoughts on potential issues with 'predatory' journals.