Avoiding publishing pitfalls and predatory practices

In academia, the focus in assessment has shifted from quantity to the quality of scholarly publications. Consequently, publishing in low quality journals or dividing your material between so many articles than none are impressive, will not advance a career. In the past, the author-pays business model was only used by vanity presses. Now, just about all the well known publishers of peer reviewed subscription journals offer authors the option to have their article made open access for a fee (article processing charge or APC) and there are many thousands of reputable open access peer reviewed journals which support themselves on the author-pays model.

Unfortunately, a number of companies with no experience in scholarly publishing have seen this development as an opportunity to make easy money. Some have launched new journals which accept virtually any article as their prime objective is to collect fees from authors. Others may be attempting to run a genuine operation but, due to lack of expertise, their peer review processes are inadequate and the quality of the published content leads to the journal (or publisher) having a very poor reputation. While the latter may be clueless, the former fall into the category known as 'predatory publishers'. You need to do your own due diligence checks before submitting your manuscript.

Be wary of unsolicited emails offering to publish your thesis as a book or one of your conference papers as a book chapter. If they ask you to pay a fee, it is likely that they are vanity presses. Even where there is no fee up front, they may be 'print-on-demand' publishers whose marketing strategy is primarily based on copies sold to the author. Neither will provide the editorial oversight you would expect from an established academic publisher and the absence of selectivity means that work will not have the same standing as an academic book published by a reputable scholarly publishing press.