IDENTIFYING PREDATORY OPEN-ACCESS ACADEMIC JOURNAL PUBLISHERS, IN LIGHT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING’S DECISION TO RETROSPECTIVELY DE-ACCREDIT CERTAIN JOURNALS
Keywords:online publications, predatory publications, due diligence, new journals, de-accreditation, retrospectively, policy
This paper arose out of the retrospective de-accreditation of the journal MJSS by DHET. DHET has always had a clear policy for subsidising research: publication in an accredited journal will lead to the payment of subsidy to the university and in most instances to the academic. The first part of the paper addresses the issue of online publications, including predatory publications, and what due diligence academics should engage in prior to submitting their research to an unknown journal for publication. In particular, the article sets out the possible criteria that could be used in assessing new journals. Ultimately, the process is fraught with uncertainties and difficulties, as many predatory publishers deliberately set out to scam academics in order to garner financial profits. These problems are illustrated by comparing two online journals: MJSS and PER. The second part of the article deals with the nature of the decision by DHET to deaccredit MJSS retrospectively – in deciding that it is a potentially predatory journal. It is submitted that DHET could be estopped from denying the truth of its own representation that the MJSS is a scholarly journal. In addition, their decision to retrospectively change their own policy without adequate notice or a proper opportunity for representations, is unconstitutional, unlawful and unfair based on the legitimate expectation of the academics and universities created by the department’s policies and
practice. In addition, by de-accrediting a journal retrospectively, DHET destabilised its own policy.
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