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I've been invited to the editorial board of a predatory journal. I know not to accept the invitation or reply in any way shape or form, but I don't understand why they are doing this, which is a bit concerning. How does the scam work?

I assume board members don't pay money to the journal.

If they want me to make them look legitimate, can't they just copy my photo and biography from my employer's website and falsely claim I'm on their board? Why bother emailing me and bringing them to my attention?

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    Maybe they want to someday become a real journal, like Pinnochio. – user37208 Apr 27 '16 at 14:08
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    Predatory journals are not illegal, but falsely claiming someone is an editor might be. – Thomas Apr 27 '16 at 17:07
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    It gives these journals credibility to list as editors real people. This helps them attract submissions. The people listed benefit from it because they list themselves as editors on their curriculums. This works because deans and faculty in other areas don't know what journals are respectable and what journals are predatory, so they award points to people for being editors. If one works with quality people, then it looks bad, but if one works in one of the world's many mediocre universities, it's often the case that those who can't tell the difference outnumber those who can. – Dan Fox Apr 28 '16 at 8:17
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Well, if you agreed they would not need to fear that you demand them to remove your photo and name and that you could sue them. Also, you could write "on the editorial board of…" in your CV and at some places in the world this would enable you to reduce teaching or get a raise. I think that's basically it. If this would be true, there would be some people that accept such an invitation. Not sure if this is the case, but does not seem impossible.

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    I recall reading some time ago about a scientist with real credentials who was on the board of literally hundreds of journal (most predatory, IIRC). It was on purpose too, since he listed them on his CV. I can't find the article anymore, unfortunately, maybe someone can. – user9646 Apr 27 '16 at 14:16
  • @NajibIdrissi It seems counterproductive to claim (truthfully or not) on one's CV to be on the editorial boards of hundreds of journals. Given that there are only 24 hours in a day, people will infer that most of these editorial jobs are vacuous. – Andreas Blass Apr 27 '16 at 16:18
  • Agree with Dirk. Only purpose is to allow the journal to project their legitimacy with your permission. If they are successful, then they become mainstream and lose their 'predatory' tag. – Prof. Santa Claus Apr 27 '16 at 19:59
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    @Prof. Someone with a username "Prof. Santa Claus" is very appropriate for a question on fake journals! :) – Andrew Grimm Apr 27 '16 at 20:35
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    @AndrewGrimm Definitely! You are welcome to put me on your fake journal. :) – Prof. Santa Claus Apr 27 '16 at 21:40

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