Faculty knowledge and attitudes regarding predatory open access journals: a needs assessment study

Stephanie M. Swanberg, Joanna Thielen, Nancy Bulgarelli

Abstract


Objective: The purpose of predatory open access (OA) journals is primarily to make a profit rather than to disseminate quality, peer-reviewed research. Publishing in these journals could negatively impact faculty reputation, promotion, and tenure, yet many still choose to do so. Therefore, the authors investigated faculty knowledge and attitudes regarding predatory OA journals.

Methods: A twenty-item questionnaire containing both quantitative and qualitative items was developed and piloted. All university and medical school faculty were invited to participate. The survey included knowledge questions that assessed respondents’ ability to identify predatory OA journals and attitudinal questions about such journals. Chi-square tests were used to detect differences between university and medical faculty.

Results: A total of 183 faculty completed the survey: 63% were university and 37% were medical faculty. Nearly one-quarter (23%) had not previously heard of the term “predatory OA journal.” Most (87%) reported feeling very confident or confident in their ability to assess journal quality, but only 60% correctly identified a journal as predatory, when given a journal in their field to assess. Chi-square tests revealed that university faculty were more likely to correctly identify a predatory OA journal (p=0.0006) and have higher self-reported confidence in assessing journal quality, compared with medical faculty (p=0.0391).

Conclusions: Survey results show that faculty recognize predatory OA journals as a problem. These attitudes plus the knowledge gaps identified in this study will be used to develop targeted educational interventions for faculty in all disciplines at our university.

Keywords


Predatory Open Access; Survey; Medical School Faculty; University Faculty; Knowledge; Attitudes

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2020.849

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