If you read the title and had some idea what it meant, you have probably received a letter from a dubious-looking publisher, asking you to submit your work. Often, it comes with an appeal to your ego and probably left you with a sense of wondering if this was a real solicitation.
In short, that solicitation was probably not “real.” What does that mean? To use current parlance, it means that such an invitation probably came from a “predatory publisher.” Predatory publishers1-3 are called as much because they:
- Charge the author to publish in their usually online-only journal.
- Connect that charge to the publication decision (this is key).
- Do only a cursory review, if any at all (and many can be easily “pranked” into accepting garbage)
- Appear to be “legitimate” superficially but will often not pass muster with promotion and tenure committees, agencies or accrediting bodies, or other interested parties.
It should be noted that not all “author-pays” models are illegitimate or predatory, and I will comment on that point further down. However, those that are will leave your paper “published” in a non-reputable journal that will not get you or your department/program the credit it needs. It also cuts off other publishing options and may leave you with a very expensive bill that may or may not have been fully disclosed at the outset. At the end, predatory journals are generally viewed as “vanity presses,” with the added problem that they take efforts to look legitimate from an academic standpoint, and authors do not realize they have submitted their work to a vanity press until it is too late.