The academic community has warned that predatory journals may attempt to capitalize on the confusion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to further publish low quality academic work, eroding the credibility of scholarly publishing.
This article first chronicles the risks of predatory publishing, especially related to misinformation surrounding health research. Next, the author offers an empirical investigation of how predatory publishing has engaged with COVID-19, with an emphasis on journals related to virology, immunology and epidemiology as identified through Cabells' Predatory Reports, through a content analysis of publishers' websites and a comparison to a sample from DOAJ.
The empirical findings show that there were 162 titles related to these critical areas from journals listed on Cabells with a range of infractions, but most were defunct and only 39 had published on the pandemic. Compared to a DOAJ comparison group, the predatory journal websites were less likely to mention slowdowns to the peer review process related to the pandemic. Furthermore, another 284 predatory journals with COVID-19 engagement were uncovered from the initial exploration. These uncovered journals mostly centered on medical or biological science fields, while 42 titles came from other broader fields in social science, other STEM or humanities.
This study does not prove that predatory publications have released misinformation pertaining to COVID-19, but rather it exemplifies the potential within a complex academic publishing space. As these outlets have proven to be vectors of misleading science, libraries and the broader educational community need to stay vigilant as information intermediaries of online research.
Allen, R.M. (2021), "When peril responds to plague: predatory journal engagement with COVID-19", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 746-760. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-01-2021-0011
Emerald Publishing Limited