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The term "predatory publishing" was coined by a librarian named Jeffrey Beall to describe open access publishers who were publishing articles with little or no real peer review. Predatory publishers trick authors into believing that they are legitimate publishers that offer the peer review scientists expect in their scholarly journals. These predatory publishers exploit the open access (OA) publishing model to make money from author fees by accepting most or all papers submitted to them.
Predatory publishers are sometimes called "illegitimate publishers" or "suspicious publishers." "Predatory" implies that the blame is all on the publishers, when some authors publish with these journals knowing they are not applying rigorous peer review.
Predatory publishers produce low-quality journals with potentially unvetted, sloppy, or fraudulent articles. Readers of these journals may not recognize the poor quality of the articles. While experienced researchers are likely able to distinguish the authentic science from "junk science," laypersons and students may not recognize the difference. Conclusions and results from poor quality articles are sometimes picked up by mainstream media and represented as fact. This results in unproven theories and myths incorrectly being viewed as fact.
Busy researchers may be fooled by a predatory publisher and mistakenly submit their paper to a low-quality, predatory journal. Authors who publish in predatory journals may find that their papers will be less valued by the scientific community and as a result, less impactful. Additionally, the author fees to publish in predatory journals are steep and will result in poor value for the money spent.