Predatory Publishing: An Emerging Threat to the Medical Literature

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Abstract

The quality of medical literature is increasingly threatened by irresponsible publishing, leading to rising retraction rates, irreproducible results, and a flood of inconsequential publications that distract readers from more meaningful scholarship. “Predatory publishers” offer rapid publication with loose peer review, exploiting a system in which faculty seek longer bibliographies to achieve academic promotion. In this Commentary, the authors highlight some of the evidence that this problem exists and suggest actions to address it. Recommendations for protecting the medical literature include preventing predatory journals from being indexed by the National Library of Medicine; encouraging academic promotions committees to ensure that they prioritize value over volume of publications and that faculty understand that priority; excluding publications from predatory journals on curricula vitae and requiring that retractions are included; developing sanctions for repeated retractions or duplicate publications; and convening an expert panel to better elucidate this problem and determine strategies to combat it.

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