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Defining predatory journals and responding to the threat they pose: a modified Delphi consensus process

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Cukier Samantha, Lalu Manoj, Bryson Gregory L, Cobey Kelly D, Grudniewicz Agnes, Moher David,
Project Forschungspauschale Forschungsratspräsident SNF
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal BMJ Open
Volume (Issue) 10(2)
Page(s) e035561 - e035561
Title of proceedings BMJ Open
DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035561

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


ObjectiveTo conduct a Delphi survey informing a consensus definition of predatory journals and publishers.DesignThis is a modified three-round Delphi survey delivered online for the first two rounds and in-person for the third round. Questions encompassed three themes: (1) predatory journal definition; (2) educational outreach and policy initiatives on predatory publishing; and (3) developing technological solutions to stop submissions to predatory journals and other low-quality journals.ParticipantsThrough snowball and purposive sampling of targeted experts, we identified 45 noted experts in predatory journals and journalology. The international group included funders, academics and representatives of academic institutions, librarians and information scientists, policy makers, journal editors, publishers, researchers involved in studying predatory journals and legitimate journals, and patient partners. In addition, 198 authors of articles discussing predatory journals were invited to participate in round 1.ResultsA total of 115 individuals (107 in round 1 and 45 in rounds 2 and 3) completed the survey on predatory journals and publishers. We reached consensus on 18 items out of a total of 33 to be included in a consensus definition of predatory journals and publishers. We came to consensus on educational outreach and policy initiatives on which to focus, including the development of a single checklist to detect predatory journals and publishers, and public funding to support research in this general area. We identified technological solutions to address the problem: a ‘one-stop-shop’ website to consolidate information on the topic and a ‘predatory journal research observatory’ to identify ongoing research and analysis about predatory journals/publishers.ConclusionsIn bringing together an international group of diverse stakeholders, we were able to use a modified Delphi process to inform the development of a definition of predatory journals and publishers. This definition will help institutions, funders and other stakeholders generate practical guidance on avoiding predatory journals and publishers.