Aquaculture North America

Questionable research papers could pose threat to aquaculture

September 4, 2018
By Liza Mayer

Marine scientists are warning the aquaculture community about the rise of so-called predatory journals, scientific research papers that are not peer-reviewed, have questionable quality and are freely available on the internet.

In their paper Predator in the Pool? A Quantitative Evaluation of Non-indexed Open Access Journals in Aquaculture Research, marine ecologists Jeff C. Clements, Rémi M. Daigle and Halley E. Froehlich said predatory journals can pose a threat to aquaculture if policy makers rely on them.

“Policy makers, managers, fish farmers, and the general public rely on sound and reliable science for a successful and sustainable aquaculture industry”, says Clements, a visiting post-doctoral fellow with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.  “If they aren’t trained to properly recognize good science from bad science, they run the risk of interpreting predatory open access journals as high-quality scientific journals.”

Such journals get published in dubious online publications that charge academic authors prohibitive fees. The researchers found that predatory journals were more likely to be found during a Google search.
“This is concerning given the public perception of aquaculture is often negative, despite research showing positive benefits too,” Clements said.

He believes that open access publishing is a benefit to aquaculture science—and indeed all of science—but that it is important to understand that some scientific information may not necessarily be correct or factual.

“Science communication, like any form of communication, is a two-way street: readers need to be aware that not all science is created equally and that some science is flawed; at the same time, scientists need to connect with a broad audience to quell some of the misinformation that exists in scientific literature.”

How to identify predatory journals

Awareness and recognition is key to identifying and avoiding predatory open access aquaculture journals. To recognize whether or not a scientific journal may not be legitimate, here are some tips:

•    Readers should be wary of aquaculture journals that were established after 2010, publish less than 20 papers per year, and publish articles rapidly (less than 80 days after submission)

•    If a journal is deemed suspicious based on those criteria, the reader should then go online and search for the name of the journal in the Directory of Open Access Journals (

•    If the journal shows up in that database, it is good, but if it doesn't show up in that database, it should be read with caution

•    For interpreting science, non-scientists should seek the advice of trained scientists

The study suggests that readers should be wary of aquaculture journals that were established after 2010

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