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


  • Stephanie M. Swanberg Associate Professor and Information Literacy & eLearning Librarian, Medical Library, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, MI https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0553-8339
  • Joanna Thielen Biomedical Engineering Librarian, Art, Architecture & Engineering Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2983-5402
  • Nancy Bulgarelli Associate Professor and Director, Medical Library, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, MI




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


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.


Suber P. Open access overview [Internet]. 2004 [cited 11 Oct 2019]. <http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm>.

Shen C, Björk BC. ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Med. 2015 Oct 1;13:230. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2.

Björk BC, Solomon D. Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact. BMC Med. 2012 Jul 17;10:73. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-10-73.

Berger M, Cirasella J. Beyond Beall’s list: better understanding predatory publishers. Coll Res Libr News. 2015 Mar;76(3):132–5. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/crln.76.3.9277.

Beall J. Best practices for scholarly authors in the age of predatory journals. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2016 Feb;98(2):77–9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1308/rcsann.2016.0056.

Ferris LE, Winker MA. Ethical issues in publishing in predatory journals. Biochem Med (Zagreb). 2017 Jun 15;27(2):279–84. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11613/BM.2017.030.

Richtig G, Richtig M, Hoetzenecker W, Saxinger W, Lange-Asschenfeldt B, Steiner A, Strohal R, Posch C, Bauer JW, Mullegger RR, Deinlein T, Sepp N, Volc-Platzer B, Nguyen VA, Schmuth M, Hoeller C, Pregartner G, Richtig E. Knowledge and influence of predatory journals in dermatology: a pan-Austrian survey. Acta Derm-Venereol. 2019 Jan 1;99(1):58–62. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2340/00015555-3037.

Ross-White A, Godfrey CM, Sears KA, Wilson R. Predatory publications in evidence syntheses. J Med Libr Assoc. 2019 Jan;107(1):57–61. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2019.491.

Bindon SL. Predatory publishing revisited. J Nurses Prof Dev. 2018 Jul/Aug;34(4):179. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/NND.0000000000000467.

Cartwright VA. Authors beware! the rise of the predatory publisher. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2016 Nov;44(8):666–8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ceo.12836.

Harvey HB, Weinstein DF. Predatory publishing: an emerging threat to the medical literature. Acad Med. 2017 Feb;92(2):150–1. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000001521.

Masten YB, Ashcraft AS. The dark side of dissemination: traditional and open access versus predatory journals. Nurs Educ Perspect. 2016 Sep/Oct;37(5):275–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000064.

Chambers A. How I became easy prey. Science. 2019 May 10;364(6440):602. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.364.6440.602.

Florczak KL. Prevent betrayal by predatory publishers: trust but verify. Nurs Sci Q. 2018 Jan;31(1):11–4. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894318417741100.

Rodriguez JE. Awareness and attitudes about open access publishing: a glance at generational differences. J Acad Libr. 2014 Nov;40(6):604–10. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2014.07.013.

Rowley J, Johnson F, Sbaffi L, Frass W, Devine E. Academics’ behaviors and attitudes towards open access publishing in scholarly journals. J Assoc Inform Sci Tech. 2017 May;68(5):1201–11. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.23710.

Cusker J, Rauh AE. A survey of physical sciences, engineering and mathematics faculty regarding author fees in open access journals. Issues Sci Tech Libr. 2014 Fall;78:1. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5062/F4VH5KTQ.

Zhu Y. Who support open access publishing? gender, discipline, seniority and other factors associated with academics’ OA practice. Scientometrics. 2017;111(2):557–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-017-2316-z.

Christopher MM, Young KM. Awareness of “predatory” open-access journals among prospective veterinary and medical authors attending scientific writing workshops. Front Vet Sci. 2015 Aug;2:22. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2015.00022.

Gaines AM. From concerned to cautiously optimistic: assessing faculty perceptions and knowledge of open access in a campus-wide study. J Librariansh Schol Commun. 2015;3(1):eP1212. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1212.

Creaser C. Open access to research outputs—institutional policies and researchers’ views: results from two complementary surveys. New Rev Acad Librariansh. 2010;16(1):4–25. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13614530903162854.

Woszczynski AB, Whitman ME. Perspectives on open access opportunities for IS research publication: potential benefits for researchers, educators, and students. J Inf Syst Educ. 2016;27(4):259–76.

Cobey KD, Grudniewicz A, Lalu MM, Rice DB, Raffoul H, Moher D. Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey. BMJ Open. 2019 Mar 23;9(3):e026516. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026516.

Kurt S. Why do authors publish in predatory journals? Learn Publ. 2018;31(2):141–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/leap.1150.

AlRyalat SA, Farah RI, Shehadeh B, Abukeshek A, Aldabbas L, Al-fawair A, Ababneh O. Biomedical researchers and students knowledge about predatory journals. J Acad Libr. 2019 Sep;45(5):102056. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2019.102056.

Beaubien S, Eckard M. Addressing faculty publishing concerns with open access journal quality indicators. J Librariansh Schol Commun. 2014; 2(2):eP1133. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1133.

Blas N, Rele S, Kennedy MR. The development of the journal evaluation tool to evaluate the credibility of publication venues. J Librariansh Schol Commun. 2019;7(1). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2250.

Association of College & Research Libraries. Framework for information literacy for higher education [Internet]. The Association; 2016 [cited 11 Oct 2019]. <http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework>.






Original Investigation