1. Carroll, V. Susan Editor

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During the course our lives, many of us think or dream about becoming a writer. We keep journals. We save notes and letters. We imagine ourselves sitting along the Seine in a Parisian cafe, like Hemingway or Sartre, as we put thoughts to paper or in a London coffee house, like J. K. Rowling as she created a world of wizards. Fame and fortune follow as the work is published. More likely, however, as nurses, we want to write and publish professionally, to share our research findings or changes in practice and to expand the knowledge base on which we base our care. And, although we live and breathe the work we do, just as we live and breathe words, writing and publishing is hard. Ernest Hemingway once said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." (

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Professional writing and publishing has long been an integral part of scholarship and learning. However, it is a unique publishing subset. In most businesses, two parties, buyers and sellers, enter into an agreement. In scholarly publishing, the buyers (libraries) and sellers (publishers) are joined by two other key parties: authors, and editors and reviewers. Authors eagerly provide content; editors and reviewers act as gatekeepers to maintain "standards," promote specific professional and scholarly interests, and assure readers of the quality of content. All as it should be and has been for decades.


Enter the wolves. In an effort to make content available to wider audiences and to remove restrictions to the online access of peer-reviewed scholarly work, open access publishing has emerged as an alternative or addition to the more traditional publishing models. Open access is and of itself not a problem-it allows authors and publishers to share their work more easily and to make new knowledge and evidence available to a more global readership. "Many highly rigorous, scholarly and professional journals are exclusively open access; other journals offer readers a range of traditional and open access options" (INANE Predatory Publishing Practices Collaborative, 2014). JNN offers both traditional and open access models. The problem with the predatory publishing wolves emerges when an author is promised rapid review and acceptance of her/his work. Predatory publishers often have minimal to nonexistent review processes, a fabricated editorial board, and journal titles and logos that mimic legitimate ones. Authors receive flattering invitations to submit work that is then accepted without any actual expert critique or feedback. The process for submission, review, and publication can occur in a few weeks.


Predatory publishing comes with costs. Authors are expected to pay a fee (often substantial) for the work to appear: no fee, no publication. The more substantial costs, however, are not monetary. Authors who naively or unwillingly submit papers to predatory publishers may find their careers are tainted by the publisher's lack of credibility, or their previously published papers become tangled in legal limbo because copyrights have been signed away to a nonexistent publisher or their work is inaccessible using established search engines. Wider, collective concerns about the quality and legitimacy of pseudo-scholarly publishing might also cause harm to our profession. A possible flood of questionable science and poor scholarship could discredit the profession and ultimately result in harm to patients and their families.


How can an author identify the wolves? If an offer to publish sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Nursing authors should use Beall's list of predatory publishers ( as a reliable resource as they make decisions on where to submit their work. Jeffrey Beall is an academic librarian and blogger; his blog, Scholarly Open Access (, provides authors, reviewers, and editors with dynamic monitoring of digital and online publishers. The Directory of Nursing Journals (, a joint effort by the International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE) and Nurse Author & Editor, includes a list of journals that have been vetted for authenticity and ethical publishing practices. Another useful resource is Tom Long's blog Nursing Writing (, which includes a list of reports on predatory open access journals and conferences. Guidelines for evaluating a journal's integrity are available as Supplemental Digital Content 1 at


Writing and publishing is intrinsically rewarding and also provides writers with external recognition within our professional community. Nurse authors, and those who edit their professional journals, should be committed to maintaining the high standards we have learned to expect in our body of published work. Open access and digital publishing provide us with opportunities that broaden our collective horizons and add readership. But without careful monitoring and evaluation, they can lead us into the wolves' den.




INANE Predatory Publishing Practices Collaborative. (2014). Predatory publishing: What editors need to know. Nurse Author & Editor, 24(3), 1. Retrieved from[Context Link]