Publication Pollution by Predatory Journals

Publication Pollution by open access publication mode

In a commentary published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings Journal New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan convokes scientists and physicians to take a stand against predatory publishing, plagiarism, and fraudulent publications, which are polluting the fields of science and medicine. He also warns that if the medical and scientific communities continue to remain in denial of these trends, the trustworthiness, utility, and value of science and medicine will be irreparably damaged.

In this era of digital publication of research works, the popularity of online scholarly journals has led to the emergence of an open-access publishing mode in which authors are often asked to pay to get their accepted papers published. This mode has become so widespread that some online journals have started misusing it. They use deceitful practices to cheat the author and pollute the network of scholarly publications. This is why they are categorized as predatory journals.

When the problem of predatory publications was posed to Jeffrey Beall, the well-known librarian and associate professor at Auraria Library in the University of Colorado in Denver, he stated that researchers, science communication, and science itself are the victims of this publication pollution.

How do such predatory journals thrive?

In the initial stage, these publishers approach authors through personalized and deceptive spam e-mails to persuade them to publish their research works in their journals. They also falsify impact factor rankings to allure researchers and authors. However, they hide the names of the owners, editors, and reviewers, and don’t even disclose their business address. They deliberately hide the fact that an article processing fee has to be paid prior to the publication of the paper. Thus, authors remain unaware about publication charges until they receive the invoice from the publication office. Later, they are forced to pay because of a sense of obligation and the urge to get their research published. This style of publishing pressurizes the author to search for alternative means to cover the unforeseen expense. The publishers also include a list of reviewers and editors on their journal pages without seeking their consent.  The journals pay no heed to the requests of authors to remove those names.

This trauma adds to the highly stressful experience of authors as they struggle to publish their research for better job prospects. In a bid to make their CVs more impressive by increasing the list of published works under their belt, authors fall easy prey to predatory journals.

The eagerness to publish articles has led many authors to the path of open-access publishers operating hundreds of journals. Barely four years earlier, the market share was dominated by larger, long-established institutions, each with 100 or more different journals in the field of science. However, according to a survey mentioned by Cenyu Shen and BoChrister Bjork in their research on predatory publications, approximately 8,000 journals of 963 predatory publishers have published nearly 420,000 articles.

These predatory journals are not only deceiving the authors, but are also polluting the academic and scientific research world. Here are some glaring problems in these predatory publications.

Misconduct in Research

Predatory journals encourage plagiarism, self-plagiarism, image and data manipulation, salami slicing of one research into several papers, and host and honorary authorship. Though some of these practices also occur in legit journals, the frequency is much more in fake ones because the prime driver of spurious journals is revenue growth. Therefore, predatory journals publish articles without subjecting them to a stringent review process. As a result, non-science and fake research articles are published in science journals with manipulative data and findings. This weakens the process of academic research. Moreover, the whole scientific research world experiences a breakdown when such articles are cited in other scientific articles in cyclical effect.

Subpar publications

Predatory journals gradually turn out to be a tool for unscrupulous authors who desperately want to obtain the annual published articles margin in their names. With fake journals offering to publish articles within a short span of time, the complicit authors succeed in publishing subpar articles. They don’t even hesitate to publish articles authored by others in their name.

Sudden blackout of such journals

In case the journal disappears from the academic community, authors not only lose their publishing fee, but also their published research work.

Therefore, in order to shield yourself from this pollution, you must carefully review contracts with your publishers and assess the publisher’s rights and assertions. That will help you ensure a long and durable relationship with your publishers. Even if the process of getting your paper published in well-known real journals is tedious and painstaking, it is definitely worth it to protect your research from being misused.

Strategies to surpass hurdles faced by NNES authors

Difficulties faced by non native english authors during publication

In the world of research, the dominance of the English language has been experienced by all native or non-native English speaking (NNES) researchers. Not surprisingly, this often finds a place in academic discussions worldwide. The minimum expectation of academic journals, apart from the quality of research, is that your paper must have a strong foundation in the English language. In fact, competence in the English language has emerged as an essential component for giving your research the necessary visibility and acting as a stepping-stone to publication in international journals.

With English as the lingua franca for publication in reputed science journals, academic works in English far exceed those in other languages. This has left non-native English speaking scientists with the predicament of struggling to gain recognition for their work. It is difficult for them to survive in this increasingly competitive English-oriented world of academics. On the other hand, publishers of international journals are also in a dilemma because of the growing number of extremely cogent and potent researches written by non-native English speaking authors. Although these researches carry important findings, they are often rejected by editors and publishers because of poor language skills that impinge clarity. For instance, these researches might present the scope of the study in language that lacks lucidity and carries many editorial flaws. Language is also a barrier for many NNES writers due to a lack of understanding of the instructions to authors for the target journal.

Apart from these obvious obstacles, linguistic errors and plagiarized text are also major hindrances in getting the paper published in international journals. While highlighting these obstacles for NNES writers, it is more important to look for solutions that will help them circumvent these problems.

There are some fundamental guiding principles that NNES writers can follow to overcome the hurdles on their publication journey.

Have patience. If your paper is rejected, follow and address the editors’ and reviewers’ comments on your paper. Incorporate the required modifications and improve your paper for the next submission. Do not feel disheartened and keep trying until you succeed.

Linguistic corrections. Friends and co-workers can be your best critics in your research journey. Get your paper reviewed on the grounds of language and other loopholes before submitting.

Study published papers. Some NNES authors are prominent researchers who have published their papers in international journals. Study their work and follow their style without falling into the pitfalls of plagiarism and imitative research. In short, follow their writing style, but be original in your research.

Select the right journal for your paper. Apart from the bulk of international journals, some academic journals are interested in publishing the researches of non-native English researchers. Hence, search for the right journal by analyzing papers by NNES authors similar to your research to increase the chance of acceptance.

Follow the target journal guidelines strictly. Many papers are rejected or returned because they do not adhere to the guidelines for manuscript preparation. Therefore, ensure that you follow them strictly and format your paper accordingly.

Team up with your co-researchers. It is possible to analyze most academic publications and gauge their preferred perceptions, strategies, and criteria for publication. To leverage this factor, create more contacts with experienced researchers and look for potential areas of collaboration in research and writing.

Editing services. Consider taking the help of language editing services offered by native-English speakers with scientific expertise. Such services improve the language, presentation, and scientific research content. They can work on the language flaws in your paper and lower all the barriers in getting your paper published. These services can also help you respond to the editors’ and reviewers’ comments on your paper.

Instead of becoming despondent and dejected, it is far more critical to make use of your time optimally by identifying appropriate ways to overcome hindrances and strategize well for publishing in English journals.

Ethical conflicts in career of medical writers

Medical writers develop content linked with the pharmaceutical, medical, healthcare, and bio-medical sciences. In performing that role, they often face a dilemma about how much they can change or add content so that their writing is not classified as that of a paid ghost writer. This is one of several ethical issues that are an integral part of a medical writer’s career.

With flexibility in terms of working hours, medical writers are able to explore new interdisciplinary fields to develop content. However, crossing the thin line into the realm of ghostwriting is a grave ethical concern in cases where the manuscript is being submitted  to an academic journal for publication.Ethical conflicts

Following are some of the allied issues that have been questioned in a medical writer’s career from an ethical standpoint:

  • Incorrect interpretation of the results by the writer will not only adversely affect the research but also the credibility of the writer.
  • Inadequate research on the specific research topic and related issues might lead to errors of omission or commission, which will finally have a bearing on the quality of the final output.
  • Pharmaceutical companies are constantly evolving existing drugs and introducing new ones. This might position the medical writer on the cusp of uncertainty because such developments necessitate last minute  changes in the manuscript and, possibly, even the conclusions. Conversely, ignoring such new data will jeopardize the research output.
  • Akin to any other field of writing, plagiarism is a bane for medical writers. Often, medical writers are tempted to present someone else’s research work, either wholly or partly. This unethical practice is resorted to as a shortcut to keep abreast of tight deadlines imposed by the author for writing and submitting a research paper.
  • Authorship issues also pose problems for medical writers. They need to follow the journal guidelines and keep at arm’s length the issues related to conflict of interest vis-à-vis the sole proprietor of the manuscript or the research.

Medical writers need to take cognizance of all these potential pitfalls while developing content because such awareness helps them excel in the field of medical writing and leads to a clear understanding of their work objectives.

Improve your English writing

develop our writing abilitiesTo develop our writing abilities, we must first ascertain the purpose of the writing and its target audience. We must ensure that it is our inner passion and enthusiasm that has made us explore into the world of writing.

The present blog article provides some basic points that we all can follow to improve our writing abilities and achieve excellence.

Steps to improve English writing

Participate in group discussions

Align yourself with people who share your interest in writing. They might not be experts, but they must be open to acquiring new writing skills. Interact with like-minded people who can engage with you in debates and discussions. Such discussions can help the group pick up new facets of writing or polish existing skills.

Practice makes perfect

Writing is a process that keeps on improving with practice. You need to be patient to see the results because writing demands both concentration and time. It is important to be resolute and not lose heart if success is not achieved within the expected time frame. Conversely, it is important to believe in your caliber and understand that with regular practice and the right attitude, you can reach a certain level of excellence.

Understand the grammar

Grammar rules should be strictly followed to produce a flawless writing piece. Thus, one should imbibe sufficient knowledge about these rules and understand the nuances of the language. These skills can be picked up by referring to some established grammar books and solving exercises. A stranglehold on grammar goes a long way toward developing writing skills.

Learn new words

Apart from grammar, vocabulary is perhaps the most important component of writing because carefully selected words give expression to your thoughts in the best possible manner and amplify the impact of your writing. Improve your vocabulary by learning and using new words that can make your sentences more graceful and expressive. You can do this by reading books by different authors. Reading not only helps improve your vocabulary, but it also acquaints you with new and varied writing styles.

Importance of an apt title for your research paper

Writing a research paper with innovative and groundbreaking findings might be a difficult task in itself, but a carefully formulated title is also just as important.

A Good Research Paper TitleBy its sheer positioning at the top, the title occupies a pristine position in your research paper and readers, reviewers, and editors are inadvertently drawn to it first. This makes it imperative on your part to give considerable time and thought to go through several iterations before finalizing the title of your research paper. The title needs to be clear, concise, and indicative of the research topic.

Often, readers consider the title as the primary parameter to check the suitability and importance of a research work. Hence, the title should be enticing without being verbose, so that the reader is persuaded to read the abstract that follows the title. Much like the cover of a book, it is the main heading of a research paper that leaves an indelible imprint in the reader’s mind. Besides, in this age of Internet search queries, the title can technically act as a metadata string that highlights the aim of your research and helps other researchers locate your paper when they use a web crawler.

The following are some tips for making your title more meaningful and easily discoverable by search engines:

  • Use proper sentence structure in the title.
  • Consider the target audience of your paper before selecting words for the title and structure them accordingly.
  • Think of a short title that best expresses the salient features of your paper.
  • Avoid descriptive, interrogative, or rhetoric titles for scientific research papers.
  • Try to include the fine points of the subject population (e.g., children with autism and alcohol-withdrawn patients, etc.).
  • Focus of the title should be on the outcome of the study.
  • Restrict the use of abbreviations unless they are exceptionally common.
  • Never construct the title on the basis of statistical findings of the paper.
  • Use punctuations wisely.

Title tells the objective of the paperA title of an article or a paper, irrespective of its type and genre, should be able to express the main objective of the paper in order to be useful for readers or researchers. That will lead more web searches to your research paper and increase the chances of it being cited in other research work.

Proofreading service provider

Written works, publications, or writings, for the purpose of either academic or business, should ideally be completely free from errors related to format, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc., before the final piece is produced.

Proof Communications writes, copy edits and proofreads successful tenders, proposals and award entry; we write interesting thought leadership, blogs and case studies; and we proofread annual reports, sustainability reports, RAPs, PDSs and IPO documents for companies worldwide.

For academic purposes, such as a dissertation, this is essential because mistakes in the presentation, most often result in deducted marks. While in businesses, the best, error-free work produced, portrays the concerned business in the best light.

Why you must hire a proofreading service provider?

Producing any written document is stressful work, particularly if there is a deadline. There is a tendency to make mistakes if the work is rushed. It therefore helps to have a professional look through the work to find out and correct the mistakes, if any.

The importance of hiring a proofreader

In employing the services of a proofreading agency, for any written work, its reputation and quality of work, for previous customers, should be taken into account.

Many companies who offer this service give a personalized quote to every customer and they base this on the length of whatever has been written and needs to be checked, because a very high level of concentration is needed to make sure the job is done properly and correctly to the highest standards. The exact price is hence known this way and is a better way of sorting out pricing without being surprised by extra costs.

One possible question for the chosen agency is about the fields they specialize in, or whether their proofreaders are able to cover a variety of subjects. It always helps to have a proofreader who understands the exact area the publication has been written for.

Another important aspect to be mutually sorted out is a time frame. The company should provide a date, on which the proofread copy, along with all necessary amendments would be received back. Most written work in today’s age is done on the computer. On completion, it can be emailed to a proofreading agency instantly so that it can be checked and sent back, as soon as possible.

Another main advantage of doing it this way is that any revisions can be made quickly and easily, with these being sent back with the fully revised copy.

This serves for future reference, so that the mistakes aren’t repeated. Some agencies actually use specialized software to aid their work which helps in getting it done more quickly. This is especially true when it comes to longer documents.

On some occasions, requiring the work to be finished as quickly as possible, the agency can be informed and it can be found out whether or not the finished piece can be produced within the stipulated time.

Thus, using the services of a proofreading agency would be advantageous to an author, before he/she sends their work to the publisher.

You can visit our website to know more about proofreading as well as other editing and writing services.

The Editor: A vital role barely talked about

One of the most crucial roles in the domain of manuscript publishing is that of the editor. While a manuscript undergoes a series of steps that finally leads to its publication in a journal of the author’s choice, editing is the first stage that breathes life into a raw document. An editor polishes the knowledge and skills of a writer and even supplements the manuscript with new material that a writer might not have, might not know how to use, or fail to see its relevance in the work. In short, an editor assembles the pieces of a manuscript to create a fascinating and appealing picture that the readers will want to explore in depth.

  • A writer can employ specific services and specialist editors; the choice depends on the stage in which the manuscript is in the publishing cycle:
  • A structural or stylist editor gives shape and expression to the work.
  • A proofreading editor examines and corrects the spelling, punctuation, and grammatical elements of the work.
  • A copyeditor typically reads the text and checks it for sense, clarity, and grammatical accuracy, and conformity with the guidelines provided by the writer.
  • A manuscript editor focuses on the structure and flow of the work as a whole.

An editor serves the project, the author, and the reader. Therefore an editor should preferably be a native English speaker or someone who is very well-versed with the nuances of the language. One of the primary functions of an editor is to correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation and simultaneously be aware of the target journal guidelines. It is essential for an editor to maintain consistency and logic (ensuring the need of the target audience), and verify headings, statistics, graphs, and footnote entries. An editor captures the writer’s voice and sensibilities and presents the work in the best possible manner to meet the expectations of the audience. All in all, an editor balances the writer’s intent with the publisher’s standards and the reader’s expectations and finds a way to satisfy all three requisites.

Editors are sticklers for perfection. They have a great eye for detail, a strong vocabulary, and in-depth knowledge of grammar rules and conventions. Language is their forte and they are aware of its impact and significance. Hence, it becomes imperative to know the background and credentials of the editor you are entrusting your work to. Requesting testimonies and work samples is a good approach to know more about the editor and make an informed choice. By researching and being clear on the expectations and outcomes, one can be in control and convey the right message to the editor to ensure that the manuscript reaches its apt destination. A great editor is ideally supposed to make the journey toward publication a pleasurable one. Conversely, a poor editor will have an adverse effect both on the quality and the time taken to see the project reach a logical conclusion.

As Stephen King rightly put it, “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

Importance of English editing for non-native speaking authors

English is recognized as the lingua franca for scientific publications. This might be considered to be a deterrent for Non-Native English Speaking (NNES) authors because they find it difficult to assemble their thoughts and prepare their manuscripts for submission to the leading journals. Therefore, many new scientific researches or revelations might never come to light.

NNES researchers and authors usually seek international recognition instead of being confined to their national boundaries. Consequently, they opt for international journals in English. However, these journals are very particular about the language structure and a manuscript with poor language is inevitably rejected. Even if the paper is accepted, the journal reviewers will come down hard on any ambiguity in the language and give a negative feedback. In few cases, they can reject the manuscript citing lack of relevance to the journal’s scope.

In this scenario, NNES authors can seek solace in proficient editing services, which can help bring their manuscripts to the required standard. Professional editors can tweak sentences and content to expunge ambiguous statements, so that the research is presented in a clear, lucid, and cogent manner.

Common mistakes by NNES authors

The most common mistakes committed by NNES writers include the following:

  • Sentence structure: They commit mistakes in basic English writing, particularly grammatical mistakes.
  • Clarity: They often face the problem of expressing their ideas in English, which leads to complex and wordy sentences that impede understanding.
  • Subject specific terms: They are often unable to use technical terms appropriately, which might lead to serious fallacies.

The way forward for NNES authors

Rather than being disheartened, NNES authors should take measures to overcome the obstacles on the way to getting published in reputed journals.

Before hiring a professional editing service to review their manuscripts, they need to take care of the following points to communicate their research ideas better through their writing:

  • They should keep the text as simple as possible by reducing the sentence length, vocabulary usage, and complexity.
  • Usage of idioms and phrases should be minimized.
  • The paper should contain only subject-related technical terminologies.
  • The context of the paper should be clear and concise so that the referees build-up an understanding about the subject while reviewing.

These writing guidelines, coupled with the expertise of a professional editor, can go a long way in ensuring publication in renowned journals.

Why opt for professional editing services?

Importance of professional editing

Professional editing services provide a broad spectrum of services such as basic and advanced copy editing, proofreading, and substantive editing. Substantive editing can be opted for by an author when the paper requires in-depth editing, restructuring, and rephrasing, or if the sentences lack clarity. In such cases of high-level editing, professional editors rephrase and rewrite the convoluted and imprecise sentences and paragraphs. This input considerably enhances the presentation of your manuscript and improves the chances of publication. Advanced copyediting is a less rigorous editing process that often encompasses an expanded copyediting service to fix minor errors in your paper. The service also includes rewriting of certain unclear sentences, but the amount of editing remains modest. Basic copyediting entails correction of general grammatical and syntax errors and improving word choice to enhance the manuscript in terms of presentation and clarity. Proofreading involves checking of overall errors in the manuscript including grammar, punctuation marks, capitalization, and better word choice at certain places to improve the quality of the paper. It constitutes the basic level of editing and polishes a manuscript. To avail such professional editing services, one needs to hire an editor who is well-versed with the aforementioned editing categories. The benefits of hiring a professional editor include the following:

  • Authors who have excellent ideas but find it difficult to express them on paper can gain substantially.
  • Professional editing services save the author’s time.
  • The chances of publication of the manuscript are enhanced manifold.
  • Minor as well as major errors in your manuscript are identified and ironed out.
  • Authors get acquainted with the general writing conventions, grammar rules, and proper usage of punctuation marks, which helps them avoid convoluted and incorrect sentences in their writing.
  • Professionally edited manuscripts have an edge in the peer review process.

Professionally edit for publication

Although professional editors can polish the manuscript by pointing out gaps in the paper, the onus of the research paper lies on the author. Therefore, a professional editor can ably serve as a helping hand in the publication process, but cannot assure publication of the manuscript. Nonetheless, if the author is able to take note of all suggestions by the editor and provide the necessary information, the paper has a much greater chance of success.

Guidelines to write an effective abstract

The abstract, which is a concise portrayal of the research work, is a decisive factor for the target journal or reader. It is not only essential to encourage people to read your paper, but also to persuade them to cite it in their research work. Thus, it is worth investing some extra time to write an attractive yet simple abstract.

First, it is important to read the main text several times to mentally absorb and retain the whole research work. Thereafter, attempt a draft that does not merely copy the sentences from the main text of the paper. Instead, the abstract should encapsulate the research concisely. Going through several iterations is a good way of improving an abstract.

The first few sentences of the abstract should illustrate the background and the purpose of the research work. These sentences should grab the reader’s attention and create an inquisitiveness to read in greater depth. The next couple of sentences should focus on the methodology of the research. Finally, the abstract should end with the result and conclusion part, which should be summarized in just 3-5 sentences. This part should be concise and emphasize the significant results and not the statistics.

Once the draft is done, proofread the draft to refine it as much as possible. Avoid verbose writing and verify the text for coherence of the information provided and proper usage of grammar. Besides text, scientific journals have come up with a new idea of summarizing their research paper through a graphical abstract. A graphical abstract is a single, concise, pictorial and visual summary of the main findings of the article. It could either be the concluding figure from the article or a figure that captures the content of the article for readers at a single glance. These days, researchers and scientists find abstract writing to be a cumbersome process and instead opt for a graphical abstract.

Regardless of the type of the abstract, it is an essential part of your manuscript that persuades editors, reviewers, and other researchers to absorb your research in detail.