A cursory look at some ‘predatory’ journals

Last week a researcher got in contact because some of his colleagues (at an academic department in a developing country) had asked him to check a list of journals – he suspected that they were dodgy journals and asked us to verify this. I did a quick bit of research and in each case I spotted at least one or two ‘red flags’ on each journal which suggested they were ‘predatory’ or appallingly low quality. I thought I would adapt this advice to a shareable blog post, as the list contains some good examples of deceptive and terrible journals that you should avoid at all costs (this post has also been shared already on the AuthorAID Discussion group). So let’s dive right in!

Journal 1 – Academia Journal of Scientific Research


The journal prominently claims to have an Impact Factor*. This is not the kind of Impact Factor journal your supervisor told you to publish in – journals have to be indexed in the Clarivate (formerly Thomson Reuters) Web of Science to get an Impact Factor, so it should be listed here: http://mjl.clarivate.com/ (spoiler alert: it’s not)

impact factor

If you are going to pretend to have an Impact Factor, at least make it higher than 0.3!

Journal 2 – International Journal of Development Research


Quality of the website suggests this is not an ‘international’ journal. But also, claims to be ‘UGC approved’ (by Indian University Grants Commission)… but it’s not listed here: https://www.ugc.ac.in/journallist/ (there is more information via this link about the history and criteria of the UGC list).


Prof. Bilgin looks rather sheepish. And so he should be.

Fake association with Thomson Reuters.
researcherIDFurthermore, they create a fake association with Thomson Reuters. The Thomson Reuters ‘Researcher ID’ website is for individual researchers to identify themselves and list their publications, but many predatory journals are registering accounts using just their journal name. They do this so they can link to this page from their website, and it *looks* like they have an official Thomson Reuters page. Clever.

Needless to say, the journal is not listed on the official website: http://mjl.clarivate.com/

Journal 3 – World Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews (WJSRR)


Like many of the journals here, the scope of the journal “scientific research” is very broad and should make you sceptical of their ability to be able to cover such a wide range of subjects! It might be useful to compare and contrast this with Science or Nature, which are well-established international, multidisciplinary journals.

This is the Editorial Board listing for Nature Scientific Reports: https://www.nature.com/srep/about/editorial-board – as you can see it has an extensive list of editors covering every area under the natural and clinical sciences, so you can be confident in their expertise in your subject area. Compare this with WJSRR: http://wjsrr.com/Editor%20Board.php. Not quite in the same league, is it?

Also, the paragraph below is what we might call ‘gobbledygook’. It’s repetitive, incomprehensible English and says nothing about the scope of the journal. Also see the worrying red text – your paper will be ‘published without delay’. That doesn’t bode well for rigorous peer review.

“World Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews (WJSRR) is peer reviewed, online an open journal. It serves as a World Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews (WJSRR) forum of scholarly / researcher / academician research related to Scientific Research and Reviews Research. World Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews (WJSRR) are covers all the fields of Scientific Research related. There is no limit and covered full length research article, short communication, review paper and case study etc. World Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews (WJSRR) are inviting you to submit your paper and paper will publish without delay. World Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews (WJSRR) journal content will review by most prominent experts in the respective field. All published journal reader can read absolutely free.”

Journal 4 – Asian journal of science and technology



Professor Yildirim looks like he is quietly seething that somebody has spelt ‘physical’ wrong on his nice banner.

Again, this claims to be ‘UGC approved’ – but it isn’t https://www.ugc.ac.in/journallist.

Also, let’s look at the aims and scope to find out more information… oh, ‘page not found’ http://www.journalajst.com/about-journal


Batman recommends deep scepticism of claimed ‘impact factors’

Journal 5 – International Journal of Advanced Research


This journal has a link to ‘Impact Factor’ on the homepage which goes to this page: http://www.journalijar.com/impact-factor-2014/ showing a gallery of nice certificates for something called ‘Scientific Journal Impact Factor’.

This is a fake/meaningless ‘impact factor’ (find out more information on fake impact factors here) that has no credibility in the scholarly community. Again, a journal only qualifies for an Impact Factor if its listed here: http://mjl.clarivate.com/

Also, their Editor in Chief is a ‘Dr Morse Florse’ of the UK. What a great name! Unfortunately, there is no institutional affiliation listed, it just says he is in the UK, so no way of checking his credibility. I did a search on Google for ‘Morse Florse’ and there is no information on this person, except that he is listed as an editor in chief for lots of journals with similar names. I’m pretty sure this is a fake name, and perhaps based on the fictional detective Inspector Morse.


Journal 6 – Applied science and innovative research**

The Editor of the journal is a ‘Lisa Brown’, an employee of the publisher ‘Scholink’. What credentials does she have to be an editor of a multidisciplinary journal? There are no other details provided, and I was unable to find any information on her online.

They also provide a list of indexes which contains at least 3 fake impact factors:
• Global Impact Factor (GIF)
• Cosmos Impact Factor
• Universal Impact Factor


Summing up, all of these journals should be avoided at all costs. Additionally, I would suspect that any researcher who has shortlisted these sort of journals as potential target journals for their research is looking in totally the wrong place. Perhaps they have been paying too much attention to the spam they receive in their inbox (credible journals never send you unsolicited emails folks!). Or perhaps they did a Google search for ‘international journal’ or ‘research journal’, when in fact it would be much wiser to think about their specific research field first, rather than the grand-titled (fake) multidisciplinary journals listed above. They should be more realistic – afterall, most good-quality academic journals are very niche and serve a specific audience.

After sharing this post on AuthorAID, an author got in contact with me to say that he had an article accepted by one of the above journals and was about to pay an APC when he saw this. He provided copies of the acceptance letter, ‘reviewer comments’ and invoice. More on this next time!

* Impact factors – I’m aware that the Impact Factor is not a perfect measure of journal quality or research integrity. There are a growing number of critics of the metric, and in fact there are tens of thousands of perfectly credible journals that do not even quality for this metric. However, many ‘predatory’ journals advertise their fake Impact Factors quite prominently to entice unwary researchers into thinking they have prestige, so it’s important that those researchers know how to check the claims of these journals and cross-check with the Clarivate website.

** This journal is quite strange. They have tried to make their journals seem quite credible, with some standard Open Access practices – CC-BY licenses, the authors retaining copyright, and working DOIs. However, an organisation that lists offices in London and Los Angeles should not have grammatical errors on their homepage.

Social media events as a model for ‘triggering’ cognitive presence

According to pedagogical researchers Garrison, Anderson & Archer (2001) the first phase of cognitive presence in their Community of Inquiry model is a ‘triggering event’ which includes the recognition of a problem and a sense of puzzlement.  This initiates further exploration into possible solutions, ideally through collaborative information exchange and integration, before applying new ideas.

I’ve always considered ‘controversial’ questions as a good way of introducing a topic, forcing participants to reflect on an engaging issue as the first way of approaching a topic – to make it more ‘real’ to them. However, this doesn’t always come naturally, and perhaps we can learn something from viral social media events as triggering events, as the HumanMOOC has suggested in it’s final week. But can we engage our participants in the same way? Most successful social media events take off because of a commercially created video, big news story, strange event or brilliantly clever idea – not very easy to replicate!

Well one thing that viral social media events have in common is that they provoke a response by touching on real human issues.  The best events have framed controversial issues that relate to issues that are relevant to everyone – for example the “10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman” video that exposed everyday harassment or the Dove “Choose Beautiful” campaign that touched on issues of negative self-image. Such questions demand a response because they are relevant to everyone. Depending on the topic, it should be relatively easy to find material (whether it be a youtube video or opinion article) on a ‘controversial’ subject relevant to the subject that has a human ‘angle’, whilst being careful not to use offensive material or trivialising serious matters.

Another thing that popular social media events have in common is that they provide a simple template/structure for responses, making it easy for people to be involved in the conversation. For example the ice bucket challenge, which followed a common format – a video of a person having a bucket of water poured on their head after nominating 3 others for the same fate. #Likeagirl and #thisgirlcan used Twitter hashtags as the driving message behind the conversation, whilst campaigns like #notinmyname or #bringbackourgirls would ‘humanise’ the hashtag by using a ‘selfie’ with a self-penned version of the hashtag.

So the most successful social media events are good at provoking a human response, but also very good at making it quick and easy for people to respond.

Learning from Twitter hashtag events

There is also a lot to learn from the smaller spontaneous Twitter hashtags that popup from time-to-time. For example #nicerfilmtitles, where people changed one word in a film title to make it nicer (Snacks on a Plane, The Bourne Diplomacy) or others more open to comedic or topical interpretation such as #2015in5words, or #11thCommandment.
These hashtags are very popular for short periods of time, and quite often get picked up by celebrity tweeters. What I like about these is that they allow people to participate very easily, either by changing a single word, or providing a short snappy sentence. It also encourages people to write concisely, which is an important skill in academic writing.

Thinking about how to apply this concept to my own work, our online course participants are international researchers, so we try to avoid using humour too much, as there are many cultural differences and it’s easy to be misinterpreted (for example, my British sense of humour can be rather ironic and surreal). Here are some ideas that might work better:

Summarise your idea

I like the idea of getting participants to summarise their research idea or a research gap in a certain number of words (perhaps 7 or 8). This could happen via Twitter, or could be done within a forum or a tool such as padlet. This would be a good model for how they communicate their research ideas in the future, and I think this could lead organically to follow-up discussions between people with similar interests. There could also be a follow-up exercise where participants write a longer summary (perhaps an abstract).

Summarise learning

This concept could also be used as a way of testing participants understanding of key concepts, for example “summarise what you have learnt this week in 7 words”. This tests learning, conciseness and gives the student a chance to be creative. It’s also fun!

I tried replicating this on the HumanMOOC Twitter conversation with a #humanizedelearningin5words hashtag. Not particularly catchy, and It didn’t quite go viral, but we got some interesting contributions:

Twitter also allows for attaching images for extra impact – expand the tweets above to see these!


Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2001). Critical Thinking and Computer Conferencing:A Model and Tool to Assess Cognitive Presence. American Journal of Distance Education. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

“Watch This Woman Get Harassed 108 Times While Walking in New York City”, retrieved from Time website, 03/01/2016

“Here are Some of the Best Viral Campaigns of 2015”, retrieved from Small Business Trends website, 03/01/2016

What is the purpose of marketing?

The purpose of marketing is to persuade us to see value in products and services that we would not otherwise consider important or necessary to our lives. Essentially this means that we are trained to desire things not according to wants rather than actual needs.  This idea arose early in the twentieth century:

“We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. […] Man’s desires must overshadow his needs”

Paul Mazur, Harvard Business Review. 1927

Paul Mazur was a leading Wall street banker working for Lehman brother. He also claimed that:

“The community that can be trained to desire . . . to want new things even before the old have been entirely consumed yields a market to be measured more by desires than by needs. And man’s desires can be developed so that they will greatly overshadow his needs.”

Mazur, Paul (1928). American Prosperity: Its Causes and Consequences. New York, NY: Viking Press. Page 24

Over time,  ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ have blurred into one. Perhaps you won’t hear marketers admit that their job is to persuade people to purchase goods they don’t need. But that is still their primary purpose in the bigger picture of modern capitalism, or the “staggering machine of desire” as Mazur called it.

This machine wants to manipulate you to be a consumer above all else.  The system depends on constant desire for goods.  Over time, the The American marketing industry trained consumers to:

“…turn a blind eye to social inequities, to construct individual subjectivites around the purchase of commodities, and to view democracy as the freedom to choose between brands.”

Schweitzer, Marlis (2009). When Broadway Was the Runway: Theater, Fashion, and American Culture. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Page 57

Or in the words of Rage Against the Machine:

The environment exceeding on the level
Of our unconciousness
For example
What does the billboard say?
Come and play!, come and play!
Forget about the movement

Rage Against the Machine, “Freedom”,  1992

Pastafarian headdress controversies show the need for a workable definition of ‘religion’…

Pastafarian wearing pasta strainer on headA Czech man has won the right to wear plastic kitchenware in his ID photo as part of this “Pastafarian” faith. Czech officials ruled that rejecting his request would be a breach of the country’s religious equality laws, and have subsequently turned the other cheek as the 28 year old, from Brno, updated his ID card with the controversial image.

In a statement from Brno City Hall, spokesman Pavel Zara explained: “The application complies with the laws of the Czech Republic where headgear for religious or medical reasons is permitted if it does not hide the face.”


Austrian Niko Alm previously won the right to wear a pasta strainer, but others in the US and Poland have failed.

Austrian driver allowed ‘pastafarian’ headgear photo:

Illinois Pastafarian Wants to Wear a Colander on his Head for His Driver’s License Picture, but Gets Rejected:

Whilst this is a lot of fun, I suspect that the one thing all these cases have in common is the lack of a useful definition of religion (at least for legal purposes). Actually defining ‘religion’ is something that has divided intellectuals in religious studies, philosophy, sociology and anthropology etc.  for the last century. Very few satisfactory definitions exist.

Some might view determined Pastafarians who try their luck like this as troublesome time-wasters, but they might just be providing us with the perfect scenario for truly defining what religion is. Afterall, if somebody says they are religious, who are we, or the courts, to argue with them?  Is religion entirely subjective? We need an objective, workable definition of religion not just for amusing cases like in Austria and Poland, but also to settle more serious controversies – for example involving Scientology.

I’m currently working on a theory of religion that I hope will settle cases like the above – I hope to write more on this soon.