Predatory Publishers and Other Challenges in Academic Publishing

Sandra Helinski

Henry R. Kranzler
Center for Studies of Addiction, Department of Psychiatry
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

The rapid growth in online medical and scientific publishing, while of great benefit to the research community, also has its drawbacks. Chief among these is the proliferation of predatory open-access journals. These journals use a variety of illegitimate practices, including misleading metrics (e.g., fake impact factors), and hijacking (i.e., the use of counterfeit websites to solicit the submission of articles for which authors pay a publication fee) to profit from the eagerness of many researchers to publish their work in peer-review journals. A less obvious problem can be seen among legitimate publishers following the shift to online publishing and open access, which has created pressure on journals, particularly those that are the official publications of scientific societies. Many society journals provide an important source of revenue for the organizations that own them, which competes with the goal of representing the organization, publishing the work of its members, and reflecting favourably on the scientific achievements of the field. The optimal solution to this dilemma, which remains to be determined, has important implications for authors who aim to make their work accessible to a specific audience where it will have an impact on the field. At Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (ACER), the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society of Biomedical Research on Alcoholism, we have redoubled our efforts to serve our key constituency, the societies’ members. These efforts have focused on speeding the review and publication process; working with the lay press to publicize the findings from published articles; increasing the number of critical reviews to provide the readership with ready access to thoughtful, comprehensive coverage of key topics in alcohol research; and providing a forum for the discussion of issues central to alcohol research.