Is intentional publishing in predatory journals a form of scientific misconduct?
Predatory journals are widely acknowledged as a significant problem in scholarly publishing and, more broadly, as a threat to the responsible conduct of research. Because predatory publishers base their operations on deception, it is possible for well-intentioned researchers to unwittingly end up publishing their work in predatory journals. Of a more problematic nature is the behaviour of researchers who intentionally publish in predatory journals as a way of bypassing legitimate peer-review. In such cases it is important to decide what such behaviour constitutes as a way of developing policy aimed at deterrence. The aim of this study was to answer the question of whether intentional publishing in predatory journals can be considered a form of scientific misconduct, based on the critical application of four conditions taken as being requirements for this. It is not currently possible to satisfy all four conditions that would include intentional predatory publishing as a form of scientific misconduct. However, there are grounds to argue that this behaviour satisfies the definition of a questionable research practice. Regardless of exactly where intentional predatory publishing is placed in the spectrum of unethical research behaviours, there is an urgent need for coherent institutional policy to effectively deal with it and, more broadly, naïve publishing in predatory journals.
C Stein, University of Johannesburg
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Date published: 2020-07-07
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