It can be pleasing to see mainstream media taking an interest in research integrity, particularly when misconduct involving you or your institution is not the focus of the story. Advising HDR candidates, new supervisors and other early career researchers about predatory publishers can feel like a public service and is something that can shock your audience into paying attention.
But could the label predatory publishers be concealing a more complex picture?
The binary notion of prey and predator; a trusting but naive researcher and a greedy con-artist; and the white hats and black hats of old-fashioned westerns can feel authentic, real and dangerous.
However, it might just be that we’re missing the collective long-con.
Rather than hapless and tricked researchers, there is data and commentary to suggest at least some experienced researchers are gaming the system and using the non-existent peer review of illegitimate publishers to add a paper to their publication track record.