Predatory Publishers: a $75 million-a-year business that can exacerbate health disparities


A  longitudinal study published yesterday indicates that predatory publishing is big business, bringing in $75 million in 2014 alone by publishing nearly half a million articles.

Researchers in Finland conducted the first comprehensive study of predatory publishers, examining the e-business aspect as well as the inadequate peer-review process. They found that predatory journals have rapidly increased their publication volumes from 53,000 in 2010 to an estimated 420,000 articles in 2014, published by around 8,000 active journals.

The study found that most of the publishers are based in developing countries in Asia;  India accounts for 27% of the predatory publishers. By and large, the authors of these articles come from the same regions, with  more than 75% coming from Asia or Africa, 35% of which are from India.

Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education points out that predatory publishing is more than just unfair to those who do undergo the peer-review process:

“The glut of ‘for fee’ pseudo-scientific journals that do not require a legitimate peer-review process doesn’t just represent a disturbing and unethical side of publishing; it also has the ability to exacerbate existing health disparities,” Fisher explained. “The data disseminated by predatory publishers can have disastrous effects on the most vulnerable populations both nationally and globally whose access to quality health care depends upon the integrity of data supporting intervention effectiveness.”

For more information about this study, please read the publication from BMC Medicine or this article in Science with additional comments and background.

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