Policy on Predatory Journals
The Journal of Herpetology (JH) relies on peer-review to publish the highest quality papers for its audience. JH is working to incorporate many changes that are sweeping communication in the sciences, such as OnLine access. Some in science communication advocate reducing or even eliminating peer-review (e.g., Rabesandratana, T. 2013. Science 342:66-67; doi: 10.1126/science.342.6154.66). Such advocates argue that peer-review has become political and unacceptably protracted. They argue that reviewers are competitors with papers they review and harbor ulterior motives opposed to providing timely, objective reviews. They argue the review process is becoming protracted, in part, because busier and busier schedules are substantially reducing the pool of willing reviewers.
JH recognizes these growing challenges to peer-review and has earlier commented on ethical dilemmas that can result from them (Perry, 2016. JH 50:345-346). It also recognizes, however, the pit-falls of abandoning peer-review, often to minimize the time required to complete an editorial review. A good number of newer, open-access journals have emerged over the last decade and many typically provide little or no scrutiny over the information they publish. While this greatly reduces the time between submission of a manuscript and its publication, contents of these resulting papers are poor and unreliable (Bohannon, J. 2013. Science 342: 60-65). In addition, they seem to be driven by a profit motive, rather than publishing the best possible science.
To be clear, our issue is not with on-line, open-access journals; we can list a number of such journals that also maintain high-quality content (e.g., Herpetological Conservation and Biology; PLoS). Our concern is on the poor quality of science in these journals; authors using information from these journals risk weakening or invalidating an otherwise quality manuscript. JH warns authors seeking to publish in JH not to use information published in these journals. When the Editors receive manuscripts that utilize and cite such journals, and to protect the integrity and quality of JH and herpetological research, the Editors will request authors to rewrite a manuscript without these sources, at the least, or simply will reject the manuscript.