EditorThe open access movement has bolstered content dissemination worldwide, but it has also led to the rise of “predatory publishers.” Instead of prioritizing the quality of the content, predatory journals exist to take advantage of the pay-to-publish open access system, enforcing a lax or non-existent peer review system while charging authors processing fees to publish their work.

Researchers who are eager to publish – specifically early-career researchers – often get caught up in the predatory publisher cycle because they’re either unaware of the practices or have not verified a journal’s reputation.

A new investigation, spearheaded by Nature, found that dozens of academic journals have been recruiting fake editors and offering them a place on their editorial board.

To begin the investigation, Nature submitted a fake application for an editor position to 360 journals, ranging from legitimate titles to suspected predatory journals. Of the 360 journals, all of which were listed in either Journal Citation Reports (JRC), Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or Beall’s list (possible predatory journals), 48 accepted the faux editor application.

The fictitious CV sent to publishers was that of Anna O. Szust (ozust being the polish word for fraud), featuring a slew of fake scientific degrees, credits on books that don’t exist, and not one legitimate citation to her name or any work indexed in the Web of Science or Scopus.