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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Discriminating Between Legitimate and Predatory Open Access Journals: Report from the International Federation for Emergency Medicine Research Committee


Introduction: Open access (OA) medical publishing is growing rapidly. While subscription-based publishing does not charge the author, OA does. This opens the door for “predatory” publishers who take authors’ money but provide no substantial peer review or indexing to truly disseminate research findings. Discriminating between predatory and legitimate OA publishers is difficult.

Methods: We searched a number of library indexing databases that were available to us through the University of California, Irvine Libraries for journals in the field of emergency medicine (EM). Using criteria from Jeffrey Beall, University of Colorado librarian and an expert on predatory publishing, and the Research Committee of the International Federation for EM, we categorized EM journals as legitimate or likely predatory.

Results: We identified 150 journal titles related to EM from all sources, 55 of which met our criteria for OA (37%, the rest subscription based). Of these 55, 25 (45%) were likely to be predatory. We present lists of clearly legitimate OA journals, and, conversely, likely predatory ones. We present criteria a researcher can use to discriminate between the two. We present the indexing profiles of legitimate EM OA journals, to inform the researcher about degree of dissemination of research findings by journal.

Conclusion: OA journals are proliferating rapidly. About half in EM are legitimate. The rest take substantial money from unsuspecting, usually junior, researchers and provide no value for true dissemination of findings. Researchers should be educated and aware of scam journals. [West J Emerg Med. 2016;17(5)497- 507.]


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