Scholarly publishing is competitive, and getting an article published in a leading journal is an important step in establishing credibility. However, not all scholarly journals are alike.

Do you know the difference between real and fake scholarly journals?

If you answered “no” to the question above, it might make you feel better to know that you’re not alone—or does it?

With the growth of open-access medical journals, it’s gotten a lot hard to spot legitimate research from fake research (or at least, research that the most prestigious scholarly journals would publish).

But wait! Open-access scholarly journals give a wider group of scientists and experts the opportunity to share their research, and they can do it more quickly. That’s a good thing, right?

Yes and no.

The Problem with Open-Access Scholarly Publishing

The problem is that some open-access scholarly journals are have no real criteria for publication. They charge authors and researchers to publish their articles, and as long as the authors pay, the articles are published.

According to a story by Elizabeth Segran from Fast Company, $500 is the going rate. In her article, “Why a Fake Article Titled ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?’ was Accepted by 17 Medical Journals,” she shares the story of Harvard medical researcher Mark Shrime who receives email requests from open-access medical journal publishers on a daily basis asking to publish his research for $500.

Shrime decided to put 37 of these publishers to the test and sent a fake research article for publication to all of them. With text created from www.randomtextgenerator.com and author names like Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Wells, you’d think this article would never see the light of day. However, 17 of the publishers Shrime submitted it to have already accepted it for publication pending payment of the processing fee. It’s a great story, so be sure to follow the link above to read it and Shrime’s full “research” article.

The Problem of Finding Credible Scholarly Articles for Research

The problem of finding credible articles has existed for a long time. Try to find a credible article using a Google search and you’ll have to sift through a lot of low quality content before you can find something written by a person you’d actually rely on. This is a problem that Shrime told Fast Company scientific researchers have, too. He explained that scientists use Google Scholar, and it leaves a lot to be desired.

“As scientists, we’re aware of the top-tier journals in our specific sub-field, but even we cannot always pinpoint if a journal in another field is real or not,” said Shrime. He explained that the National Library of Medicine maintains an official list of approved medical journals called PubMed, but it takes time for publications to actually be indexed in that journal. “If you want to find a reputable journal, you’d turn to PubMed, but the problem is that there are also many reputable journals that are not on PubMed,” he says.

ACI Offers a New Way to Find Trustworthy Scholarly Content

The goal of the ACI Scholarly Blog Index is to help more scholarly researchers, journalists, students, and writers find reputable scholarly articles, including those that aren’t published in the journals indexed by PubMed. There is so much highly authoritative scholarly content published every day that gets lost in the online clutter. The ACI Scholarly Blog Index will get that important content in front of the people who need it and will make it easier and faster for those people to find it.

Image: University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences licensed CC BY 2.0