1. Section Editor(s): Fulton, Janet S. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, ANEF, FAAN

Article Content

After writing a grant and conducting a study, a new faculty member has the article accepted for publication! Celebration time! Fast forward a couple of years, the tenure dossier is due, and poof! The article has disappeared. A clinical nurse specialist on the research team needs the article as partial evidence for certification renewal. It was right there on the journal's Web site link when it was released, so where has it gone? What now?


The demand for scholarly publication in academia is legendary, giving rise to the "publish or perish" credo that faculty members failing to achieve adequate numbers of publications will be dismissed from their post. While this remains a truism in academia, publication of scholarly work is becoming more of a mainstay in clinical promotions, certification renewal, and professional honors. Publishing professional and scientific work is important because it demonstrates the value of the work as judged by peers while engaging the author in collegial conversation for the advancement of knowledge and practice.


Navigating publication world is becoming more complex. Historically, peer-reviewed articles were published in hard-copy (paper) professional and scientific journals. Readers subscribed to journals delivered to mailboxes. Enter the Internet. The same articles appearing in the paper journal were made available full text online via publisher licensing agreements with libraries. Users were typically faculty and students at universities with authorized library access. Some journals retained their paper copy along with online full-text options; some moved to totally online, eliminating all paper copies. Nonetheless, the business model of a journal remained the same-the publisher owned the journal and copyright to the content. Production costs such as copy editing and digital archiving were covered through subscription and licensing fees.


Enter open access. The last 10 years has seen an open-access movement, where articles are free of charge to readers via open-access journals housed on the Internet. No subscription fees for readers. In the gold open-access model, publishers cover productions costs by charging authors an article processing fee after the article is peer reviewed and accepted. Some publishers make articles free to readers without charge to authors-the platinum open access-used by some nonprofit societies and associations. The green open-access model is in place at some universities and offers authors the opportunity to submit post prints, the author's last version of the paper after peer review, into a digital repository (


Open access has created a booming alternative marketplace for disreputable publishers to charge fees for manuscripts submitted to bogus journals. The short, it works by creating a sham open-access journal and collecting large author processing fees. In return, articles are not published to the standards of scientific publication. Peer review is minimal, if any. Articles may appear on the journal's Web site for a short period, but preserving the article in a digital archive is costly, so the fees collected are not used to archive the article. The publisher pockets the money paid by the author. Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, has labeled these publishers and the journals they promote as predatory. His blog and list of predatory publishers and journal titles can be found at In a recent post on Scholarly Kitchen, a blog about scholarly publishing, Rick Anderson, University of Utah, suggested replacing the term predatory with deceptive and discussed ideas for ferreting out deceptive publishers (


While much remains to be sorted out about open-access publishing, it is imperative that would-be authors take time to investigate a journal before submitting a manuscript especially when fees are required. Predatory publishers market heavily through e-mail-sending notices about newly released issues, inviting authors to submit, offering quick turnaround times, and listing false journal metrics. The information may be packaged to mimic reputable journals with metric symbols similar to legitimate logos. Often it may be difficult to determine an authentic publication from a spurious imitation. Here are a few suggestions to help with investigating the legitimacy of a journal.


* Check Beall's List at If the publisher or journal appears on the list, be highly suspicious.


* Search for the journal in known databases. Scientific articles in reputable nursing journals are indexed in searchable databases such as PubMed, Science Citation Index, and Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health. If the journal cannot be found in a database that typically includes nursing articles, it may be a predatory journal.


* Go to the journal's Web site. If there is a list of past issues, click on an article from at least a year ago. Often the article will be listed, but the text will not be available. Poof! The article is nowhere. It costs money to digitally archive articles, something predatory publishers do not do.


* Search Google Scholar for a specific article listed in a past issue. Sometimes Google will find the name of the article, but no active link to the article exists. Another poof! article.


* Read the journal or publisher's Web site with a curious intent. Predatory publishers often are not native speakers of the journal's language, especially English. Upon inspection, misspelled words and unconventional phrases will become apparent. One publisher provided an alphabetical list of editorial board members by first names first, not last names first, an oddity for conventional English suggesting the need for more in-depth investigation.


* Look for short turnaround times. Adequate peer review takes time, and journals posting rapid submission to publications times, often only days, should raise suspicions about the quality of any promised peer review.


* Suspect promotional offers such as reduced fees for submitting on a short deadline.


* If a journal is the official journal of an organization or association, access the journal through the organization's Web site. A predatory journal may look like the official one, but likely will not be linked to the organization's Web site.



As open access continues to evolve, so will the options for cheating. Predatory publishers are in the business to make money for themselves, not to promote scholarship or the advancement of knowledge. In the virtual world, policing this duplicitous activity is increasingly difficult. Not all open access is bad; however, predatory or deceptive publishing is a growing problem that threatens scientific integrity in general and the open-access model in particular. Yield to caution in selecting a publisher or journal as both an author and reader.


One additional word of advice: never publish in a journal that is not indexed in a reputable database. The intended audience will not find the work, defeating the entire purpose of publishing as a way of engaging with colleagues in an ongoing scholarly conversation. A directory of legitimate nursing journals is maintained by Nurse Author and Editor and can be found at