Workshop F: There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Publication: Or Is There?

There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Publication: or is There?


A’Llyn Ettien, MLIS

Alumni Medical Library, Boston University Medical Center


Scientific writing can be seen as the final, ongoing stage of medical education, steadily more self-directed as students become graduates, researchers and writers. This session is an overview of the scientific publishing process: both the traditional model, (authors submit articles to journals, charge fees for access), and the various Open Access (OA) models (authors or institutions may pay a fee for publication, articles are freely available). OA can benefit researchers, but the model allows for “predatory publishers,” which charge fees for publication and provide little or no peer review or promotion. Recent attention to preprint servers, which played a large part in information dissemination early in the COVID-19 pandemic, may further confuse researchers interested in the best way to make their work public. Participants in this workshop will learn the basics of the publishing process and gain the ability to confidently assess communications from publishers.

Target Audience:

Faculty members who write for publication and/or advise students with in-process or completed theses or research projects

Workshop Audience:

Library staff members often receive questions from students who have received offers to publish their theses for a fee, and from researchers who have received questionable solicitations from publishers. These writers seek advice on how to tell if publication offers are legitimate. This workshop offers that advice in a group forum, with opportunities to discuss specific offers and talk about the advantages and disadvantages for authors of OA and traditional publishing and the use of preprint servers.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this workshop, participants will:
• Understand the basics of both traditional scientific publishing and Open Access publishing, where preprint servers fit in, and what benefits each model presents
• Be able to identify hallmarks of potential “predatory publishers” and understand why these may not best serve an author’s professional and educational goals
• Confidently evaluate offers they receive from publishers
• Be prepared to advise students confronting this out-of-classroom challenge
• Be familiar with sources for more information on specific journals and publishers

Agenda Outline:

Introductions, overview of Learning Objectives, participant input on specific goals for session -10 min

Overview of traditional publishing process -10 min

Overview of Open Access publishing -10 min

Overview of preprint servers in the publishing process -5 min

Discussion of how OA can be a useful option: group participation solicited -15 min

Overview of “predatory publishing” in OA, tips for identifying predatory publishers -10 min

Hands on/group activity: practice evaluation of OA publisher websites and communications (participants are encouraged to bring examples of solicitations they have received) -10 min

Wrap up: Questions and summary -5 min