June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.1259.1 - 24.1259.23
The Impact of Writing Style on Predatory Journal WebsitesIn 2010, librarian Jeffrey Beall started a list of academic journals that allegedly use predatorypractices. Coined “Beall’s List,” (Beall, 2013) this working catalogue highlights over twohundred open-access journals that may feign editorial processes, peer-review, or otherprocedures of a reputable publisher. Given the recent attention to scientific misconduct (Fang,Steen, & Casadevall, 2012; Yong, 2012), an important question is whether there are methods todetect predatory publishers from authentic ones?In this study, we apply an automated language analysis technique from the social sciences toexamine how predatory and authentic journals differ in writing style from the About Us andAim/Scope sections of their websites. Compared to authentic journals, predatory journals usemore discrepancies, certainty terms, and positive emotions but fewer function words, articles,prepositions, quantifiers, and terms related to causality. These results follow recent patterns inthe deception literature (Pennebaker, 2011; Toma & Hancock, 2012), suggesting that languagefeatures may be useful when evaluating predatory versus authentic publishers.In addition to analyzing writing style, we analyzed meta-linguistic properties of predatorypublishers from the same database of journals. Compared to authentic publishers, predatorypublishers use more third-party email addresses, claim false impact factors, fake rapid peerreview, and simulate academic expertise. This is the first study to examine predatory publishingthrough an empirical lens and our results suggest that there are quantifiable linguistic and meta-linguistic differences between predatory publishers and those journals that seek to publishhonestly. REFERENCESBeall, J. (2013). Scholarly open access list of standalone journals. Retrieved September 30, 2013,from http://scholarlyoa.com/individual-journals/.Fang, F. C., Steen, R. G., & Casadevall, A. (2012). Misconduct accounts for the majority ofretracted scientific publications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the UnitedStates of America, 109, 17028-17033.Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). The secret life of pronouns: What our words say about us. London:Bloomsbury Press.Toma, C. & Hancock, J.T. (2012). What lies beneath: The linguistic traces of deception in onlinedating profiles. Journal of Communication, 62, 78-97.Yong, E. (2012). Nobel laureate challenges psychologists to clean up their act. Retrieved July20, 2013, from http://www.nature.com/news/nobel-laureate-challenges-psychologists-to-clean-up-their-act-1.11535.
Markowitz, D. M., & Powell, J. H., & Hancock, J. T. (2014, June), The Writing Style of Predatory Publishers Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23192
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