Never mind predatory publishers… what about ‘grey’ publishers?


  • David Nicholas CIBER Research Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Eti Herman CIBER Research Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Abdullah Abrizah University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Blanca Rodríguez-Bravo Universidad de León, Spain
  • Cherifa Boukacem-Zeghmouri Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, France
  • Anthony Watkinson CIBER Research Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Marzena Świgoń Uniwersytet Warminsko-Mazurski, Poland
  • Jie Xu Wuhan University, China
  • Hamid R. Jamali Charles Sturt University, Australia
  • Carol Tenopir University of Tennessee, USA


Palabras clave:

Predatory journals, Questionable research practices, Low-quality research, Policies against predatory journals, Publishing, Research, Scholarly communication, Early career researchers, ECRs, Pandemic consequences, Harbingers project, Interviews, Country differences, Australia, China, France, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Spain, UK, United Kingdom, US, United States


The Harbingers project, which studied the working lives and scholarly communication behaviour of early career researchers (ECRs) over 6 years, found evidence of changing attitudes to questionable (grey) publishing. Thus, whilst predatory publishers have come to be treated with equanimity, as a problem easily dealt with, there was growing concern with the high volume of low-grade research being generated, some of which by ‘grey’ open access publishers for want of a better name (questionable and non-standard have also been used). With the recent announcement (2023) that the government of Malaysia (a Harbinger case country) is not providing Article Processing Charges (APCs) for articles published by MDPI, Frontiers and Hindawi on quality and cost grounds, we set out to see what lay behind this decision and whether other countries exhibited similar concerns. Information was obtained by asking Harbinger country leads, mostly embedded in research universities, from Australia, China, France, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Spain, UK, and the US to conduct desk research to establish what is happening. It was found that countries, like ECRs, appear to have formed into two different camps, with China, Poland, France, and Spain joining Malaysia in the camp of those who felt concerned about these publishers and the UK, US, Israel, and Australia belonging to the camp of the unconcerned. Explanations for the split are furnished and whether the Malaysian position will prevail elsewhere is considered. Finally, in this paper, we have aired issues/concerns, rather than provided robust, systematic data. For a systematic study we shall have to wait for the fuller study we are hoping to conduct.


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Cómo citar

Nicholas, D., Herman, E., Abrizah, A., Rodríguez-Bravo, B., Boukacem-Zeghmouri, C. ., Watkinson, A., Świgoń , M. . ., Xu, J., Jamali , H. R. ., & Tenopir, C. (2023). Never mind predatory publishers… what about ‘grey’ publishers?. Profesional De La información, 32(5).



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