Beware of predatory publishers

More and more students are being contacted by dubious publishers. AU Library, BSS now encourages students to be on their guard if they are contacted by a publisher with an offer of publication.

Predatory publishers have become a well-known phenomenon among researchers, but sadly, students are now also being approached by such publishers. Typically, the publishers contact Master’s thesis students or PhD students by email and offer to publish their Master’s thesis or PhD dissertation. As such, contact librarians at Aarhus BSS are now saying that this is something students should be mindful of.

Predatory publishers take advantage of the so-called Open Access journals, which provide free online access to peer-reviewed research. However, predatory publishers have nothing to do with true Open Access publishing.

“Predatory publishers is not a rigidly defined concept, but you could say they are publishers who care solely about their own financial gain. Their main purpose isn’t really scientific publishing,” says Anna Mette Morthorst, librarian at AU Library, BSS. 

Publisher background difficult to assess
Predatory publishers typically generate revenue by charging students for a so-called peer-review (i.e. an academic assessment of the content) or publication fee to have their research published. But common to all predatory publishers is a poor peer-review or none at all. 

Other publishers offer simple publication (i.e. “print on demand”) online in return for the students forfeiting their copyright so that the publisher earns the profits from the resale of the research. If the students subsequently want their research removed, many find that it is difficult or costs money.

Furthermore, the problem with these predatory publishers is that they are so professional that they largely appear to be genuine publishers - and that in theory genuine publishers might actually contact students.

What to do as a student?
It is natural to feel honoured if you are approached by a publisher. But it is important to use your critical sense, as the librarians’ advice goes.

“Make sure the publisher can withstand close scrutiny before agreeing to anything. Can you find proper contact information and an ISSN number? Is the journal indexed in some of the recognised lists, such as Directory of Open Access Journals, Web of Science,  Scopus, etc? If in doubt, you can always get in touch with your contact librarian or your supervisor,” says Anna Mette Morthorst, and adds:

“If you as a student would like to publish your PhD dissertation, you can do so on the university’s own publication platform, OJS, free of charge and without having to forfeit your copyright.”

About OJS:

Further information on how to avoid predatory publishers:

You can find the contact information for your local library here:
Fuglesangs Alle:
Bartholins Alle:

If you are not a student at Aarhus BSS, please contact your local library and ask them to help you. 


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