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Open Science

How to avoid and help prevent unethical publishing activity

Authors | Research integrity
Three lens microscope in dark room, light emitting from under the active microscope

What steps can researchers take to protect themselves against unethical activity? We share some red flags to be mindful of when submitting your paper.

Whether through the large-scale production of fake papers, or manipulation of the peer review process, compromised research has become an increasing challenge for scientific publishing. At Hindawi, we are continually strengthening our publishing and research integrity processes. But how can you, as an author, protect yourself against falling victim to unethical practices?

To help you identify suspicious communications, we’ve listed some telltale signs that communications may not be legitimate. When unsure, it is worth checking for some of these warning signs and if still in doubt, check with us.  

The sender’s email address

Hindawi will only ever contact you from an email address ending @hindawi.com or @wiley.com. Sophisticated scams may use real employee names and similar-looking email addresses: watch out for minor spelling differences in the email domain name.

Email goes to junk

Though not a definitive sign, if an email arrives in your junk folder it could be a reason to inspect the contents with greater care. Make sure to add trusted Hindawi or Wiley contacts to your contact or safe senders list so that genuine communications don’t get caught in spam. This will make it easier to spot if senders are using subtly different contact information.

Strange email content

Suspicious looking attachments you weren’t expecting, inconsistent email formatting, and links to non Hindawi websites could also indicate this is not a legitimate communication.

Poor or strange use of language

Emails may be poorly worded, include spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, or use non-standard honorifics such as “esteemed” or “venerable”. Use of ellipses indicating an omission may also indicate fraudulent communications.

Unusual urgency

The email appears overly urgent in tone, includes excessive use of capitalization or exclamation marks, or requests payment to a short deadline.

The details don’t match

If the manuscript status given in the email does not match the status given in Phenom this could be a red flag. You can also double check your manuscript ID and the journal name are exact matches and look out  for payment requests that don’t match our article processing charges (APCs).

Requests or provides unnecessary information

Be wary of emails asking you to provide your bank details with promises of a refund and emails that include bank details of named individuals or personal accounts rather than business accounts. APCs are charged as requests for a single payment that you will receive after your article has been accepted. These requests will be sent from  [email protected] and will reflect the amounts stated here unless you qualify for a waiver. We do not ask for color charges or fees for additional publishing services - beware of requests for these. We are unlikely to ask for personal details such as your phone number so this could also be a red flag.

Authorship and publication is not for sale

We will never sell authorship positions or endorse their sale, and we will never guarantee publication in exchange for payment. Researchers who do pay for such advancements are funding and participating in unethical practices that undermine the scientific record. Paying for an authorship position severely and irreversibly undermines a researcher’s credibility. When a researcher is found to have done this, the paper will be retracted, the publisher will apply sanctions that limit their ability to publish or hold editorial positions in future, and their institution may be informed and may take further action against them. All of their previous research outputs will also be brought into question – if a researcher is willing to pay for an authorship position, what is to stop them from fabricating images or data, or taking any other shortcuts at the expense of good science?

All publication decisions are based on the outcome of peer review and on successfully passing our pre and post peer review screening checks. You can find out more about the processes we use to uphold research integrity here.

APCs are not linked to article acceptance or editorial decisions - these are paid for the services we provide. Our Editors and Peer Reviewers will never request payment from authors for any preferential treatment or additional services.

This list isn’t exhaustive and bad actors adopt increasingly sophisticated tactics to take advantage of people. If you’d like to learn more your institution may also provide guidance or training on how to avoid scams and you can learn more about predatory publishers in this article by the Committee on Publication Ethics.

If you are concerned about a recent communication or suspect you are being targeted by bad actors claiming to be Hindawi or Wiley staff get in touch.

Contact [email protected] >>

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration adapted from Adobe Stock by David Jury.

Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of 2021, as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles.