The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) have released a Joint Position Statement on Predatory Publishing, which was published in Current Medical Research & Opinion (CMRO) on July 29, 2019.

The Joint Position Statement outlines the “serious threat” that predatory journals pose “both to researchers publishing the results of their work and to the peer-reviewed medical literature itself.” It calls for all medical authors “to carry out due diligence by examining the reputation of the publications to which they submit, and send their work only to those journals that provide proper peer review and that genuinely seek to contribute to the scientific literature.” It further points out that “medical writers and editors, as well as researchers, have a responsibility to evaluate the integrity, history, practices, and reputation of the journals to which their research is submitted.”

The following 11 characteristics were identified in the Joint Position Statement as being typical of predatory journals and their publishers:

  • publishers or journals sending emails that aggressively solicit researchers
  • a journal name that sounds somewhat familiar – but is actually a devious permutation of a legitimate journal name
  • a website that appears unprofessional, with poor graphics, misused language, dead links, and aggressive advertising
  • no street address or in-country telephone number noted on the journal or publisher’s website, or a fake address/phone number provided
  • a lack of journal indexing in a recognized citation system, such as PubMed, or within a legitimate online directory, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • promises of unrealistically quick peer review, or no information provided about a journal’s peer-review process
  • article processing charges that are not transparent (and may be either very high or very low) or are payable on submission (that is, not dependent on the outcome of peer review)
  • claims made of broad coverage across multiple specialties in medicine or across multiple subspecialties in a particular discipline
  • a large stable of journals that have been started very recently and/or that contain no or few published articles, are inaccessible, or are of obviously poor quality
  • an editorial board consisting of members from outside the specialty or outside the country in which the journal is published, or board members who are unknown to someone experienced in publishing in the field
  • a submission system that is overly simple with few questions asked and no conflict-of-interest or authorship qualification information requested.

As stated by Robert J. Matheis, PhD, MA, President and CEO of ISMPP, “Professional medical communicators and publication planners must be aware of the serious threat predatory publishing poses to scientific literature. ISMPP’s participation in this Joint Position Statement is part of our commitment to educating our members about predatory publishing and how to address this significant issue.”

For more information:

  • Access the AMWA–EMWA–ISMPP Joint Position Statement on Predatory Publishing in CMRO.
  • Read the CMRO press release about the Joint Position Statement.
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