Will someone be considered dishonest if they do not list papers published in predatory journals? I'd like to know in the following scenarios, when

  1. applying for a job
  2. listing on, e.g. a personal University web page or a Google personal profile of Google Scholar
  3. asked by researchGate to confirm “Am I the author?”

Does it conflict with the idea that honesty is the most important factor for researchers?

  • 4
    I am a bit confused why this is a concern... Why don't you want to list your papers... Did you do a crap job but at least it was published? As long as you did good quality work, it shouldn't matter where it was published..
    – Questor
    Jul 24 at 20:18
  • 5
    @Questor If they are published in predatory journals presumably they are not good quality work. If they were they should be able to get into a (possibly low ranked) respectable journal. Low ranking and predatory journals are not the same thing.
    – quarague
    Jul 25 at 9:26
  • @quarague Not necessarily... Its possible that someone new to academia who didn't know what predatory journals were, who felt the pressure from publish/perish could have published a paper in such a journal because they were the first 'scientific' journal to accept the paper. Not all papers published in predatory journals are bad.
    – Questor
    Oct 13 at 16:02

5 Answers 5


Will someone be treated to be dishonest, when not listing papers published in predatory journals?

I'd prefer not to see predatory journals in someone's publication list, because those aren't scientific journals. Also, the fewer mentions predatory journals get, the better (except, of course, in predatory journal lists).

You mention that "honesty is the best policy", so just keep the honest journals.

"Selected Publications" lists are typically much more selective that weeding out predatory journals, so I don't think it'll help your case, as you seem to aim for an exhaustive publication list. But obviously if you aim to do a shortlist with your best papers, then your shouldn't mention the predatory journals.

  • 1
    Thank you the reply. I agree. But isn't "honesty is the best policy"?
    – Mike Liu
    Jul 24 at 5:32
  • 8
    @MikeLiu yes so just keep the honest journals Jul 24 at 5:40
  • @KRyan you have misread. Jul 26 at 15:41
  • @FranckDernoncourt I did, wow. I have no idea what I was on about; sorry. I can only plead 1-year-old kept me up all night. Unfortunately, my downvote is locked in—if you want to edit, I’d be happy to switch it to an upvote.
    – KRyan
    Jul 26 at 17:27
  • 1
    @KRyan no worries Jul 26 at 17:36

For 2 ... I often see personal web pages with "Selected Publications". If that is the label, then it is not dishonest to omit some publications (for whatever reason).

  • 7
    And indeed there's no reason you can't also say "Selected Publications" on your CV, although CVs are traditionally complete. There's a chance that an employer might follow up asking for a complete list of publications, and that may also be required for e.g., tenure review. In such cases, honesty requires being complete. But in general, you don't have to advertise every paper you've published if you don't want to. Jul 24 at 12:49
  • 17
    @Kodiologist Regarding "although CVs are traditionally complete", I have to disagree. The standard size for a CV varies widely from one country to the next. In a country where your whole CV is expected to fit into a single A4 page, including work experience and education, you can't be expected to list all publications.
    – Stef
    Jul 24 at 14:58
  • 5
    I'll add that I try to not do stuff that I wouldn't want to tell people about. Jul 24 at 15:29
  • 3
    @Stef the shortened ones are usually called resumes.
    – Džuris
    Jul 25 at 10:02
  • 3
    @Kodiologist, "CVs are traditionally complete" - not really. I have never seen a CV which lists an experienced applicant's early jobs at McDonalds and the like. Jul 26 at 13:18

You pose an interesting ethical dilemma.

However, in general, honesty does not imply to provide all information. It would be dishonest to withhold information that puts the other information given in a bad light, along the lines of: "I was never convicted of murder" ("but I was convicted of voluntary manslaughter"). This would be dishonest because most people would assume that manslaughter is murder. But this is not the case here.

If you published in a predatory journal and you made a mistake, there is no reason to advertise this mistake. If you published because a co-author desperately needed a publication, even a bad one, then you do not need to advertise your good deed.

In my (Christian-Catholic) faith tradition, there is a distinction being made between information to which the receiver has a right ("Did you just cut me off in the parking lot?") and to which the receiver has no right ("No, Herr SS-Officer and Herr Gestapo, there are no jews in the attic" is the proverbial example). This avoids choosing the minor infraction of God's law, which is what we do not do. But you do not have to be in the same tradition in order to use this reasoning. The secular world is full of examples where you do not have to reveal something that is going to do harm to you. Scientific integrity is mostly about what you publish in your papers and present at talks.

From a utilitarian perspective, having published in a predatory journal is not relevant to an employer or grant giver, just as having made a mistake on a calculus exam in your first year undergraduate is irrelevant. But including the journal in your list would indicate that you believe it to be a valid publication, which would be contrary to the truth, or it would force you to discuss this in a document that is inappropriate.

So, in good conscience, leave it out.

  • 1
    Wait, why does the receiver have a right to know "Did you just cut me off in the parking lot?"? (I'm assuming you mean this as a matter of intention, not action.)
    – Kimball
    Jul 24 at 14:46
  • 3
    "But including the journal in your list would indicate that you believe it to be a valid publication, which would be contrary to the truth" I disagree. It is the contents of the paper that determine whether it is a valid publication, not where it was published. Jul 24 at 14:54
  • "From a utilitarian perspective, having published in a predatory journal is not relevant to an employer " in your opinion (or in this case for your measure of utility). The Golden rule means we need to consider the employers likely views on utility, not ours, which will be highly uncertain. Unfortunately that is why ethical matters generally can't be legislated. Jul 24 at 14:56
  • 1
    @DikranMarsupial on the other hand, a paper in a predatory journal with no meaningful standard of peer review has not been judged to be worthy of publication in the same manner that one in a proper journal has, and so from that perspective including it in a list of other papers which are published in good journals could be seen as dishonest. In that sense it's on par with a preprint which has not been accepted by a journal, in my opinion.
    – llama
    Jul 25 at 13:36
  • @llama peer review is an absolutely minimal indication of quality. There are plenty of obviously wrong papers in top quality journals where peer review has failed. There is one true test of quality - post publication acceptance (and use) by the research community - citations is one measure of that. There are plenty of really good publications on ArXiV with lots of citations that have never been through peer review. It is the contents of the paper that matter, not the journal. A paper in a predatory journal that has had impact is better than a Nature paper that has been ignored. Jul 25 at 14:59

Whatever the quality of the journal is, do you consider what you published there as good enough that I should read it, with good conscience?

The difference between this publication and one (by you) in a better journal would be: You might have put in more effort to get accepted in the better journal. It will have had a better review process, with you making improvements as a result. Or it might not have been accepted by the better journal at all.

But it is your decision, is the publication good enough for the audience, even if the journal in general isn't? Even if it isn't your best work, because it wasn't of that much importance to you, does it benefit me? That's the question to decide.


I'm sorry but I don't understand the question, as well as some of the answers here. It is dishonest to publish on predatory journals in the first place. Research is supported by funding from the state (tax payers) or private research foundations (donations). Research funds are meant to support rigorous and ethical research, in order to advance human knowledge. Predatory journals are not scientific journals and do not publish research articles. They would publish any piece of garbage you submit to them without any peer review process. I understand that some inexperienced researcher may have accidentally published on a predatory journal without even knowing that the journal was predatory. Honest people learn from their mistakes. However, if someone intentionally and repeatedly publishes on predatory journals using grant funding, the university or the institute they work for will certainly take actions against them. To conclude, if you have published several papers on predatory journals, listing these papers on the CV or university web page does not make you look more honest.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .