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Thousands of academic journals do not aspire to quality. They exist primarily to extract fees from authors. These ‘predatory’ journals exhibit questionable marketing schemes, follow lax or non-existent peer-review procedures and fail to provide scientific rigour or transparency1, 2, 3.

The open-access movement, although noble in its intent, has been an unwitting host to these parasitic publishers. Bogus journals can imitate legitimate ones that also collect fees from authors. Researchers, eager to publish (lest they perish), may submit their papers with or without verifying a journal’s reputability.

Crucial to a journal’s quality is its editors. Editors decide whether a paper is reviewed and by whom, and whether a submission should be rejected, revised or accepted. Such roles have usually been assigned to established experts in the journal’s field, and are considered prestigious positions.

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