When I was an undergraduate student at Binghamton University, I submitted two essays for publication to the Journal of Student Research, a journal in Houston run by Mir Alikhan, which publishes high school and college essays. The journal describes itself as an “academic, multidisciplinary, and faculty-reviewed journal devoted to the rapid dissemination of current research published by high school, undergraduate and graduate students”. Not only does the journal charge $200 to publish each essay but they charge $50 for you to submit an essay for consideration which is highly unusual.
While some legitimate journals, known as open-access journals, demand fees in order to publish submissions, they normally only demand fees once a submission is accepted after peer review and do not demand fees just to consider a submission. After all, the purpose of the fees demanded by open-access journals is so that individuals can read articles on these journals without having to subscribe to them. About four months after I submitted the essays, I recieved an email stating that my essays had been accepted for publication and that in the next couple weeks, I would receive further instructions via email. That email never arrived. The journal simply proceeded to publish the essays.
The professor that taught one of the classes in which I wrote the essay emailed the journal specifically asking them not to include them as a co-author. However, once the essays were published, both of the professors were listed as co-authors. My professor subsequently threatened to sue the journal but rather than simply removing their name from the article, the journal then removed both articles entirely. Interestingly enough, the journal never provided me with feedback from its reviewers, implying that the essays never underwent any peer review but were instead, immediately accepted as publishable after payment, an occurrence that is common for predatory journals.
Such predatory journals publish whatever material is sent to them as long as the submission and publication fees are paid. Needless to say, these journals are quite detrimental to academia. The journal originally agreed to offer me a refund but eventually withdrew this offer and even threatened to re-post the articles with a “Retracted: Academic Dishonesty” label if I kept insisting on a refund. I later became aware that the Journal of Student Research has been questioned in the past about the lack of peer review that submissions undergo. The journal responded that no peer review is often necessary because of the quality of the articles. However, closer inspection of the articles shows that many of them are riddled with typos. This would imply that articles are published before they are even proofread by the journal. Furthermore, it doesn’t even seem possible for a journal to determine if the research presented in an article is adequate if the only people screening these articles are the journal’s editors who are not necessarily experts on the given topic.
This unprofessional behavior underscores the importance of caution among college students when dealing with academic journals that demand payment for publishing articles. It serves as a stark reminder of the prevalence of predatory journals within the academic landscape. As students navigate the complex world of scholarly publishing, they should exercise heightened vigilance to discern reputable journals from those with dubious practices. This case serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the need for students to thoroughly research and critically evaluate the legitimacy of journals before submitting their work or engaging in any financial transactions. It underscores the significance of promoting ethical publishing practices within academic circles and encourages students to prioritize journals that prioritize the integrity of the scholarly process over financial gain. In this environment, staying informed, seeking guidance from academic mentors, and leveraging institutional resources can empower students to make informed decisions and safeguard their academic pursuits from the potential pitfalls associated with predatory journals.