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Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey
  1. Kelly D Cobey1,2,
  2. Agnes Grudniewicz3,4,
  3. Manoj M Lalu5,
  4. Danielle B Rice6,7,
  5. Hana Raffoul8,
  6. David Moher9
  1. 1Centre for Journalology, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3University of Ottawa Telfer School of Management, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Department of Research, Institut du Savoir Monfort, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6Department of Psychiatry, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  7. 7Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  8. 8Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  9. 9Ottawa Methods Centre, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Moher; dmoher{at}


Objectives To develop effective interventions to prevent publishing in presumed predatory journals (ie, journals that display deceptive characteristics, markers or data that cannot be verified), it is helpful to understand the motivations and experiences of those who have published in these journals.

Design An online survey delivered to two sets of corresponding authors containing demographic information, and questions about researchers' perceptions of publishing in the presumed predatory journal, type of article processing fees paid and the quality of peer review received. The survey also asked six open-ended items about researchers' motivations and experiences.

Participants Using Beall’s lists, we identified two groups of individuals who had published empirical articles in biomedical journals that were presumed to be predatory.

Results Eighty-two authors partially responded (~14% response rate (11.4%[44/386] from the initial sample, 19.3%[38/197] from second sample) to our survey. The top three countries represented were India (n=21, 25.9%), USA (n=17, 21.0%) and Ethiopia (n=5, 6.2%). Three participants (3.9%) thought the journal they published in was predatory at the time of article submission. The majority of participants first encountered the journal via an email invitation to submit an article (n=32, 41.0%), or through an online search to find a journal with relevant scope (n=22, 28.2%). Most participants indicated their study received peer review (n=65, 83.3%) and that this was helpful and substantive (n=51, 79.7%). More than a third (n=32, 45.1%) indicated they did not pay fees to publish.

Conclusions This work provides some evidence to inform policy to prevent future research from being published in predatory journals. Our research suggests that common views about predatory journals (eg, no peer review) may not always be true, and that a grey zone between legitimate and presumed predatory journals exists. These results are based on self-reports and may be biased thus limiting their interpretation.

  • predatory journals
  • motivations to publish
  • survey
  • corresponding authors

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors KDC, DM and MML conceived of the study idea. KDC, DM, AG and MML wrote the study protocol and designed the study survey. KDC, HR, DBR and AG identified the sample and extracted information related to corresponding authors. HR and KDC sent the e-mail to the sample of participants. KDC, AG and DBR conducted the study analysis. KDC, AG and DBR wrote the initial draft of the article. All authors provided critical feedback and agreed to the final version of the paper. DM provided funding for participant reimbursement costs.

  • Funding DBR is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Vanier Graduate Scholarship. DM provided funding for participant reimbursement costs. AG provided funding for open access publication fees. MML is supported by The Ottawa Hospital Anesthesia Alternate Funds Association and the Scholarship Protected Time Program, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Ottawa.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study received ethical approval from the Ottawa Health Science Network Research Ethics Board (20170956-01H; see

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data screening and extraction forms, as well as random samples of journals, can be found on the OSF: Each survey question, theme, and participant responses can be found in the OSF (

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.