How to avoid predatory publishers
When Amir Aghdam reads through his emails every morning, the electrical and computer engineering professor often finds one asking him to submit a research paper for publication.
“The messages are about journals and conferences I’ve never heard of,” says Aghdam, who is also the associate dean of Student Affairs and Postdoctoral Studies for Concordia’s School of Graduate Studies.
While this may seem like every researcher’s dream, the requests are actually coming from predatory publishers that hope to make a profit off the same experts they’re soliciting.
“Most of the time, they talk about how they want my paper to be accessible to many people in an online journal,” Aghdam adds.”
“Then I notice they are talking about money and how I have to pay for each page of my published research.”
Some reputable open-access journals charge researchers processing fees, but these sums are mostly used to cover the costs of publication. Aghdam explains that the main objective of predatory journals is to make money, with little to no regard to the research they are actually publishing.
To help researchers avoid the perils of predatory journals and conferences, Concordia has established a number of resources that support legitimate open-access publishing, including an author fund and online research repository.
‘It helped me defray the cost of publication’
Established in 2011, the Concordia Open Access Author Fund offsets some of the processing charges authors incur when they publish in open-access journals.
“We reimburse graduate students, faculty members, staff and postdoctoral fellows who are published in fully open-access publications,” says Danielle Dennie, the university’s librarian responsible for scholarly communications.
“This means every article in every issue is available to people from all over the world and from all walks of life.”
The fund has reimbursed over $175,000 to more than 110 Concordia researchers since its inception.
Pablo Bianucci, associate professor of physics in the Faculty of Arts and Science, recently received funding for an article he co-wrote on photonic crystal ring resonators. The findings were published in Optics Express.
“I’ve noticed that when you publish open-access papers, you tend to reach people who are not in academia,” Bianucci explains.
“It’s actually quite expensive, though, so it was great that the Open Access Author Fund helped me defray the cost of the publication.”
The study’s lead researcher, Kathleen Mcgarvey-Lechable, adds that while paying processing fees can be a burden for some authors, the costs to access research in subscription journals can also add up.
“From a moral standpoint, our research should be freely disseminated to whoever wants to read it,” says Mcgarvey-Lechable, a PhD student in the Department of Physics.
4.3 million downloads and counting
Spectrum is Concordia’s web-based, open-access research repository where faculty members and students can upload their research findings. Since its 2009 launch, more than 4,363,212 documents have been downloaded.
The site not only makes Concordia research accessible to people around the world, it also complies with the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.
“If a researcher receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), then they have to make that article open access,” Dennie says.
“You can do that by depositing your author manuscript on Spectrum.”
Dennie believes it is ethically responsible for researchers to make their findings open access because their projects are often funded by taxpayers. She says the site also helps students bolster their research profiles.
“Studies show that open-access articles are cited more often because they are easily accessible. Getting cited regularly is good for your career as a researcher.”
Find out more about open-access publishing and predatory journals.