Towards Curing the Predatory Publishing Malady in the South: Community of Practice Approach to Developing Local Strategies and Toolkits

This is the fourth in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2022 and their projects. This one was submitted by Nathan Woods.

Photo of a globe against blue sky

This project will examine predatory publishing practices in the global south, exploring how to mobilize community led strategies that center on locally generated ideas/knowledges, and knowledge sharing strategies designed to curb predatory publishing and enhance ethical and regionally relevant scholarly communications practices.

An international consensus definition of predatory journals and publishers is that “Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices” (1). According to the report from Inter Academy Partnership (IAP), predatory academic journals and conferences are motivated by profit rather than scholarship, soliciting articles and abstracts that prey on researchers’ desire to publish and present their work (2). The notable features of predatory publishing practices according to the report include rapid pay-to-publish or pay-to-present models without rigorous peer review, fake editorial boards, fraudulent impact factors, and aggressive spam invitations soliciting articles and abstracts, including outside of a researcher’s own expertise.

Despite the huge global interest in predatory or unethical publishing practices, predatory publishing has reached alarming levels in the global south as the number of predatory journals and publishers is growing at an accelerated rate. Consequently, researchers, especially early career and students continue to fall prey of predatory publishers with the attendant repercussion on loss of good scholarship in some instances by unsuspecting authors (3) or rather proliferation of bad scholarship in other cases thereby corrupting the scholarly communication landscape with unverifiable literature (4). The reason for this may be related to lack of awareness of the issue by young scholars. Alternatively, the controversial nature of the predatory publishing concept itself may generate apathy from stakeholders in the global south who are aggrieved for being on the receiving end of a global north-led label.

This controversy notwithstanding, predatory, or unethical publishing practices do exist, and varying measures have been proposed to eradicate them. IAP stated three drivers of predatory practices which are (a) the monetisation and commercialization of academic research output (b) research assessment/evaluation and (c) challenges and deficiencies in the peer-review system (2).

While numerous strategies have been proposed to address these factors, such as checklists and decision tree approaches like ‘Think.Check.Submit’ and ‘Think.Check.Attend’, questions remain whether these recommendations and campaigns are enough for research communities to overcome these practices. Are the researchers aware and following these platforms? Are predatory publishing and measures to curb them share the same level of perception in the global south as in the north? In these circumstances, research institutions, and tertiary education institutions in the global south need to develop their own community- led strategies to avoid predatory publishing practices.

Illustration of stacked books with one open and illuminated by a starBy engaging with community led strategies and initiatives we aim to end the barrier that has sidelined the global south’s scholarship to the periphery of global scholarship. We will work on a prototype CoP design that will address predatory publishing by utilizing and mobilizing locally generated ideas/knowledge. The strength of a CoP model is that it integrates social learning, knowledge sharing, and stakeholder needs and values to meaningfully enhance complex problem solving. Our work at Triangle will focus on three thematic areas of a CoP development:

  • Discover: Consolidate best practices and develop a forum for the exchange of information and best practice in ethical scholarly publishing and anti-predatory publishing.
  • Demonstrate: Support the adaptation of internationally recommended approaches such as the Think.Check.Submit and other principles, regulations or policies through the creation and support of a collaborative space such as Slack, Weblog, Google group/drive.
  • Mobilise: Through peer-to-peer physical/virtual mentoring programs and training sessions promote the discovery and adoption of practices/toolkits/knowledgebase to avoid predatory publishing practices.

Team Engagement and Output Plan

Our international team is uniquely composed to undertake this project and includes expert practitioners variously positioned throughout the scholarly communications ecosystem, including researchers, scholars, librarians and experts in stakeholder engagement and community of practice development. The team’s participation will result in an actionable research and implementation agenda to address predatory publishing in the global south, as well as potential stakeholders to help refine, develop, and implement the agenda as part of the inquiry central to the community of practice model. This includes identifying best practices, the research areas needed to flesh out the benefits, costs, and opportunities of successfully addressing predatory publishing, factors such as researchers’ needs, and obstacles to successful adoption of existing initiatives to address the problem.

Outcomes of this work will contribute in important ways to existing global strategies that often overlook the perspectives of local researchers in the global south. The major deliverable of our work at Triangle will be recommendations supporting the development of a continuously evolving CoP. This includes a proposed plan for regional CoP, and recommendations for developing a topical and regionally specific knowledge base, and suggestions for developing toolkits, local resource hubs, and other knowledge sharing formats, to enhance stakeholder learning and action to address predatory publishing and disseminate ethical practices in scholarly communications.

After the institute these recommendations will be further developed and shared as part of the design strategy supporting the ‘discover,’ ‘document,’ ‘mobilise’ work of community building, and to ultimately inform the development of local toolkits. Development and dissemination of institute outcomes will further support the iterative development of these materials with CoP stakeholders and is a necessary step in producing locally relevant and meaningful materials supportive of community building.  We will employ a broad approach to share the outcomes of our participation leveraging both offline and online platforms, sharing our work in related conferences or seminars, and through the design and organization of community building activities related to the development of the community of practice. Team members’ personal blogs/websites will be used to share with the international and regional communities we belong to, venues such as the Scholarly Kitchen, as well as peer-reviewed venues to report our project and its progress.

Our Team

Idowu Adegbilero-Iwari (Nigeria) is the first scholarly communications librarian in Nigeria with over 12 years of experience in academic librarianship. He is currently the Science/Scholarly Communications Librarian of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. Idowu is an active member of international and local scholarly communication discussions and projects, including work in FORCE11, a global group of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers, and research funders, and most recently the Sloan-funded Reimagining Educational Opportunities for Open (REPO), exploring open science virtual training and community development in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis… He is also an active contributor to the FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI) where he has participated as both a student and facilitator. Regionally, Idowu is a member of the LIBSENSE group that is facilitating research and discussion on the adoption of Open science in Africa. He participates in its Infrastructure, Policy, and Training Working Groups. He also participates in the Eko Konnect project, a leading Nigeria national research and education network that is driving the adoption of open science in Nigeria. The team will benefit from his current research on predatory publishing and his general experiences in scholarly communication issues especially in the region under focus.

Dan Paul O’Donnell (Canada) is a Professor of English at the University of Lethbridge. He has nearly twenty years in establishing and leading community-based approaches to problems in research and teaching. He was the founding chair of the Force11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI, 2017-) and founding chair or director of the Communities of Practice Digital Medievalist (SSHRC-funded, 2004-), Global Outlook: Digital Humanities (SSHRC, 2012-), Reimagining Educational Opportunities for Open (Sloan, 2020-2021), and Humanities Data Inquiry (SSHRC, 2021-). For several years he has been active in working on projects that bridge network gaps among researchers in the Global South and North, including GO: DH, the Lagos Summer School in Digital Humanities, and co-presenter (under the leadership of Barbara Bordalejo) of workshops on implicit bias and EDI at the Digital Humanities conference (2016- ). He will bring to the institute his cross-border experiences and especially his community-building expertise to bear on the team with useful contributions of northern perspectives as well.

Basiru Adetomiwa (Nigeria) is a Certified Librarian of Nigeria (CLN) and a Member of the Nigerian Library Association (NLA), and currently Head of the Circulation Services, Redeemers University Library. A seasoned Librarian, he has many years of experience in library automation, reference source and services and acquisition of library resources. His innovativeness and professional proficiency have helped modernise the Redeemer’s University Library services. He has trained more than forty libraries in library automation and digitization, developed, and implemented innovative professional services at the Redeemer’s University Library, and published broadly in high impact local and international formats. Dr Adetomiwa is passionate about open access, technologies in the library and the modernisation of the library environment. Adetomiwa is a 2019 Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) Fellow, IFLA ARL Attendance grant winner from Africa 2019, 2018 Young Investigators Award Recipient, Seattle, USA. FORCE16 fellow and recipient of the 2015 Northwest Interlibrary Loan (NWILL) Scholarship award. The institute and the team will benefit from his experiences with scholarly communication issues and technologies plus his ongoing research in predatory publishing.

Shaharima Parvin (Bangladesh) is Assistant Librarian at East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh with more than 10 years’ experience in information science and library management. Her current role includes managing the acquisitions life cycle of electronic resources including subscriptions, access, troubleshooting, usage analysis, and budgeting. She obtained a BA and MA in Information Science and Library Management from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Shaharima is an independent researcher with interests in Open Access, Open Education, Creative Commons, the Open Science Framework and Open Data. She has held numerous diverse positions including SIG-USE Recruitment/Membership Officer of Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), Country Ambassador of The Center for Open Science, USA, Country Ambassador of CORE, UK, and Country Ambassador of International Librarians Network (ILN). She is enthusiastic about travel, reading and writing. She loves working with diverse groups of people and appreciates taking on new challenges and exploring unique experiences such as would be provided by this work. Shaharima brings tremendous contextual perspectives from Asia to the group and the institute.

Samir Hachani (Algeria) is a Professor of Library Science at the School of Library and Information Science, Algiers University 2.  He holds a PhD from Algiers University 2 and a MSLS from University of Southern California. A specialist on scholarly communication and open access in the global south, his work actively addresses issues related to peer review, and the influence of open access on the peer review process. He has extensively published on issues related to open access and the global south such as digital divide, and disseminated this work broadly at conferences, and as an instructor at the Force11 Scholarly Communications institute (FSCI). Samir is a member of the editorial Board of The Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication (Iowa State University Press) and an associate member of Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Dr. Hachani adds a Middle Eastern perspective to the work of the team at Triangle, drawing on his extensive research and experience in the region’s scholarly communication landscape.

Nathan D. Woods (Canada & U.S.A) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Lethbridge where he is currently studying research data infrastructures in the humanities and heritage sectors. He is an anthropologist and information scientist whose interdisciplinary work focuses on the intersection of research and practice on issues related to the production, dissemination, use, and stewardship of science, scholarship, and the cultural record. This work contributes to conversations in scholarly communications in multiple ways, including previous experience working with diverse stakeholders to address the continued citation of retracted research. His larger research agenda considers the complex and dynamic socio-technical relationships between knowledge, the design of institutions, and the organization of expert work. Ongoing projects explore the changing organization of scholarship; the science-policy interface; and the democratization of knowledge production. Dr. Woods specializes in the study, design and development communities of practice and will bring this perspective to the Triangle Institute, along with his knowledge of participatory design processes, and experience mapping stakeholder issues in the scholarly communications ecosystem.


  1. Grudniewicz A, Moher D, Cobey KD, Bryson GL, Cukier S, Allen K, et al. Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nat 2021 5767786 [Internet]. 2019 Dec 11 [cited 2022 Apr 29];576(7786):210–2. Available from:
  2. IAP. Combatting Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences [Internet]. 2021. Available from:
  3. Xia J, Harmon JL, Connolly KG, Donnelly RM, Anderson MR, Howard HA. Who publishes in “predatory” journals? J Assoc Inf Sci Technol. 2015;66(7):1406–17.
  4. Laine C, Winker MA. Identifying predatory or pseudo-journals. Biochem Medica. 2017;27(2):285–91.

[ Images by Lucas George Wendt and 愚木混株 cdd20 used under Unsplash Free License ]

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