Major Investigation into Scientific Predatory Journals

 In Naturopathic News

Predatory Journals Promise Quick and Easy Research Articles Bearing Little to No Weight in the Scientific Research Community

A recent study looked at the widespread prevalence of predatory journals within the scientific publications community.1 A predatory journal is a journal that promises easy, fast, and often cheaper publishing of research articles, with the common practice of publishing studies of little value or low quality. Dr. David Moher and a team of researchers from Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have been looking intently into this element of scientific literature, with the conclusion that this is a global problem, and high-income countries like the United States are also involved.

Poor Peer Review Process + Poor Quality = Poor Publishing

These predatory journals number approximately 8,000 discrete journals that publish roughly 400,000 papers yearly (collectively). Over half (57%) of them come from high or middle-income countries like the United States, Japan, and European countries. The practice of publishing studies rapidly, and at lower costs compared to legitimate journals, is about a decade old, and is often enticing to researchers. Because the peer review process of these journals is poor, the quality of the published works is often lacking. These predatory journals also do not show up in authentic search engines, which makes the data inaccessible to other researchers. It was also found that the ethics of the study were often in question.

Harvard and University of Texas Among the Prestigious Universities to have Predatory Journals Associated with Their Name

The current report looked at roughly 2,000 research papers from 220 suspected biomedical predatory journals. Results showed 27 percent of the predatory journals coming from India, 15 percent from the United States, 5 percent from Nigeria, and 4 percent from Japan. Universities such as Harvard (9 articles) and University of Texas (11 articles) were among the prestigious universities to have predatory journals associated with their name. The National Institute of Health (NIH) was the most common source of funding for the studies.

Poor Quality Studies Isn’t all they’re Publishing

In addition to the poor quality of the studies, there is another aspect of these predatory journals which is detrimental to the research community. Because these journals are not searchable through common search engines, there is a lot of scientific data which is filed away and relatively inaccessible to other researchers. Some of this data may be beneficial to current projects.

Center for Journalology at The Ottawa Hospital

The study sent emails out to 87 authors of various papers, and found that only 2 were aware that their study had been published in a predatory journal. Moher established a Center for Journalology at The Ottawa Hospital in 2015. The Center has a full-time Publications Officer. The role of this person is to train and consult other researchers at the hospital and other institutions.


  1. Moher D, Shamseer L, Cobey KD, et al. Stop this waste of people, animals and money. Nature. 2017;549(7670):23-25.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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