Article: ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics

Citation: Shen, C., & Bjork, B-C. (2015). ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine, 13: 230. DOI 10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2

This article presents a study of predatory open access publishers—those who publish journals and books with “highly questionable marketing and peer review practices.” The authors used Beall’s List of predatory OA publishers (which I discuss here) to generate a random sample of 613 journals, and then manually gathered data on the subject, geographical location, processing charges, and volumes published between 2010 and 2014 for these journals.

The authors found that the number of predatory OA journals which have published at least one article has grown from 1800 in 2010 to roughly 8000 in 2014. Additionally, 420,000 articles were published in 2014, up from 530,00 in 2010. Journals with no specific scientific subject published the most, followed by engineering and biomedicine. There were some difficulties with determining geographical location, but India was the largest percentage at 27%, followed by North America at 17.5%. This and more data can be reviewed in detail by viewing the article in BMC Medicine.

Beyond these results and others, the authors call into question the term ‘predatory,’ noting that most authors in these journals “probably submit to them well aware of the circumstances and take a calculated risk that experts who evaluate their publication lists will not bother to check the journal credentials in detail.” Instead of ‘predatory,’ they prefer the phrase quoted above: “open access journals with questionable marketing and peer review practices,” although they admit that, as ‘predatory’ is a well-established term, it is unlikely to change.