Do we need to stop talking about 'predatory' journals?

Do we need to stop talking about 'predatory' journals?  

  By: Andy Nobes on Feb. 9, 2018, 3:13 p.m.

Hi everyone,

I read this article yesterday by South African Reggie Raju, which gave me much food for thought. It critiques Beall's List and the use of the term 'predatory':

“I believe that there is ample evidence to demonstrate that the Beall criteria for declaring a journal title predatory is fundamentally flawed. And, that this flawed definition has and continues to cause more than discomfort to some excellent researchers and their research output. As indicated, tenures are jeopardised, so too are grant funding opportunities. Another issue that needs some attention is the impact of the list and the concept. Firstly, it casts major aspersions on the quality of both the journal and articles published in it. As pointed by Nwagwu and Ojemeni (2015), the fact that an editorial board is composed primarily of researchers from the global south does not make the journal predatory. There is significant expertise in the global south to make up a reputable editorial board. Who says that the gold standard has to be perfect English? This intolerance is a reflection of inward thinking and a superiority complex – perfect English is an invalid criteria to determine the quality of the research published in the journal. Another criteria that is used to cast aspersions on the quality of the journal is the peer review process. Again, the fact that a journal title does not have a rigorous peer review process does not necessarily make it predatory. There are a number of journals, for example, student journals published by leading research institutions that do not have rigorous blind peer review processes. The question that needs interrogation is: does it contribute to some level of scholarship? Does it contribute to improving the quality of life of the fauna and flora and/or human life?”

What do you think? I know that our community may have very different opinions on this.


Andy Nobes

Forum Administrator

Re: Do we need to stop talking about 'predatory' journals?  

  By: Neil Pakenham-Walsh on Feb. 9, 2018, 3:30 p.m.

Hi Andy and everyone, I would like to see greater awareness and use of 'white lists'. For example the Directory of Open Access Journals lists journals that fulfil eligibility criteria toensure - as far as possible - that every journal listed is bona fide. As Andy and others have previously mentioned, it would be good to see more use also of Think Check Submit.

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global health community with more than 17,000 members in 177 countries. He is also current chair of the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 700 communities of practice for international development, social justice and global health.  Twitter: @hifa_org   FB:


Re: Do we need to stop talking about 'predatory' journals?  

  By: Richard de Grijs on Feb. 11, 2018, 10:30 a.m.

Hi Andy,

Although I agree with the author regarding the composition of editorial boards, and I share his opinion that one's English doesn't need to be perfect in order to communicate research findings adequately, I strongly advocate for the use of peer review -- not necessarily double blind, but the mere fact that one or more external and independent colleagues have considered and critiqued a piece of work (which was hopefully acted upon) guarantees at least a minimum of quality control. The peer review process is certainly not infallible, but it simply means that someone else has (hopefully constructively) assessed a new piece of research. There may still be problems with the research, but they can be pointed out in rebuttals or follow-up work.

Richard de Grijs

Community Moderator


Re: Do we need to stop talking about 'predatory' journals?  

  By: Andy Nobes on Feb. 12, 2018, 9:19 a.m.

Hi Richard,

Exactly! I was hoping somebody would say that smiley.

There are some similar articles that make these points (which I only partially agree with) - that the 'predatory' label not be used:  'Predatory' Open Access Journals as Parody: Exposing the Limitations of 'Legitimate' Academic Publishing

And this one, which basically argues that the whole blind peer review and academic rewards system is broken so who cares about predatory journals anyway? It argues that open peer review can fix everything. It's an interesting (slightly utopian) view, but not particularly helpful for researchers who have to navigate and work within the current flawed system!

Who is Actually Harmed by Predatory Publishers?

Anyway, thought I'd provide some more controversial/thought provoking reading ;)



Andy Nobes

Forum Administrator

Re: Do we need to stop talking about 'predatory' journals?  

  By: Alan Parker on Feb. 12, 2018, 2:41 p.m.


               in my opinion, we definitely do not need to stop talking about predatory journals. They do exist and are a real problem for the research community.

My takeaway from the quote that you give is that the criteria for "predatory" need to be looked at carefully and discussed.

As you and I discussed here the other day, the situation is often not black and white. Maybe we need a scale of "predation", depending on how many bad signs, taken from a standard list, a journal displays. That would also allow marginal journals to work towards improvement in a transparent way.

To discuss.


Alan Parker

AuthorAID Community Moderator