American College of Clinical Pharmacy
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ACCP Report - April 2017

Beware the “Fakerals” When Submitting Your Research

Written by C. Lindsay DeVane, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPP
Editor-in-Chief, Pharmacotherapy

Inside the Journal

As a fundamental principle of scientific inquiry, researchers understand that discoveries must be disseminated to have meaningful and lasting value. Traditionally, this occurs through poster and oral presentations at scientific conferences, followed by publication in a respected journal such as Pharmacotherapy. The productivity of people who are working in science and academia is currently at its highest. The publisher of Pharmacotherapy, Wiley-Blackwell, estimates that 10,000 articles in the field of pharmacology originated in the United States in 2016. Furthermore, the top five countries that publish research in pharmacology (the United States, China, the UK, Japan, and Italy) accounted for 24,000 articles total in 2016. Seven additional countries had annual growth rates of greater than 5% in article output.

The number of research presentations at ACCP Annual Meetings has steadily increased. In October 2005, Pharmacotherapy published 538 abstracts presented at the ACCP Annual Meeting that year in San Francisco. At the 2015 ACCP Global Conference on Clinical Pharmacy, also in San Francisco, 715 abstracts were accepted for presentation—almost a 33% increase over 2005. Many of these abstracts will evolve into full-text manuscripts that are then submitted to Pharmacotherapy to be considered for publication.

Pharmacotherapy publishes 135–150 manuscripts per year, about 12 per issue. Because only high-quality research is selected for presentation at ACCP Annual Meetings, one problem becomes immediately apparent. The volume of scholarly work produced by ACCP members, and those with an interest in reaching clinical pharmacists, far exceeds the capacity of the College’s official journal to disseminate important findings. This limitation is similar to that with many other professional journals. What happens to scientific research that isn’t selected for publication in the world’s leading academic journals?

Enter the “fakeral,” a portmanteau for “fake” and “journal.” To the thousands of authors who wish to see their scholarly work published, the marketplace has responded with the deplorable creation of predatory science journals and outright fake journals. Stimulated by the ease of electronic manuscript submission and instant payment of publication fees, unscrupulous entrepreneurs with a motive only for profit have created hundreds of online journals. This phenomenon was recently chronicled by the New York Times, Nature, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications reporting on the culture of science.

Published material in Pharmacotherapy is distributed in print form to thousands of subscribers and electronically to a far larger audience that can download full-text versions of published articles. The authors’ cost for disseminating their work is a reasonable fee to offset part of the publication costs. This contrasts with the many open-access, online journals with author fees several times those of Pharmacotherapy’s modest fee. With the current high level of research activity, it is not surprising that predatory journals have been spawned by the prospect of easy money.

Many predatory journals that charge hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars per page for publication appear to be highly lucrative businesses but have a questionable or non-existent peer-review process. Thus, it is not surprising that their success has given rise to totally fake journals. In the expanding culture of biomedical publishing, Pharmacotherapy, the official journal of ACCP, is devoted to high-quality publication of original research and reviews on human pharmacology and drug therapy. Unfortunately, however, despite the steady growth of research and scholarly productivity by ACCP members, Pharmacotherapy can only publish a fraction of the submitted articles. For this reason, many ACCP members may seek alternative venues for publication. But beware the fakerals, and submit your research to legitimate journals to protect its integrity.