Universiteit Leiden

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Geopolitics of predatory academia: from predatory journals to mislocated centers of scholarly communication

  • Emanuel Kulczycki
Friday 18 February 2022

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This talk aims to show that the studies on knowledge production (both in the center and in the peripheries) can profit from discussions on predatory academia when they are reinterpreted in geopolitical terms.

I believe that the ongoing discussion on predatory publishing and organizing predatory conferences needs a fresh theoretical perspective to fully take the geopolitical dimension into account. The geopolitical nature of predatory academia is twofold. On the one hand, the discussions about predatory journals or conferences, are often biased against outlets produced in peripheral countries. On the other hand, many studies show that the negative effects of predatory publishing are significantly more damaging to peripheral areas of knowledge production than to central ones.

The current hierarchy of global science is likely to change, but today the center is still located in the US and some regions of Western Europe, because of large funding of science and historically created cultural hegemony which results in the domination of English in science. Because of this, various theoretical perspectives on predatory academia focus mainly on unethical business practices of journals published in English and conferences organized in English. At the same time, these perspectives have missed that some journals and conferences are labeled as predatory because they are illegitimate or invisible from the perspective of the central actors (institutions, researchers) whereas they are legitimized in the periphery due to its perceived connection to the center, for instance, by publishing in English.

My talk will consist of two parts. In the first part, I will present the results of my empirical research in the field of predatory academia: Dr. Fraud sting operation, the impact of Beall’s lists on investigating predatory journals, citation patterns including content-based analysis between impact-factor and predatory journals, and analysis of presenters from top-ranked universities at predatory conferences. In the other part, I will show how the concept of "mislocated centers of scholarly communication" allows better describe the mechanism of the emergence of predatory outlets and events. Moreover, it allows capturing such journals and conferences that are not classified as predatory (these are often Diamond Open Access journals, so their business model is not based on publishing as many articles as possible), but the quality of articles published there and editorial practices are at a level similar to predatory journals. I will argue that the existence of such journals as mislocated centers of scholarly communication is driven by various evaluation and incentive metrics-based systems.


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