Biotech Employers Spot Hidden Red Flags on CVs

Published: Sep 05, 2013

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September 5, 2013

How to avoid phony scientific publications on your biotech curriculum vitae.

By Angela Rose for

A publishing record is an important part of any science jobseeker CV. While excellent papers serve to enhance your accomplishments, poor papers can damage your professional reputation. Unfortunately, it’s not just the quality of your research that should concern you. You must also avoid publishing that research in phony scientific publications. As some biopharma professionals have already learned, even the best paper distributed by a sham journal can have unexpected repercussions.

The New York Times recently published an article on the unsavory world of pseudo-academia and the proliferation of predatory journals preying on unwary scientists. Like reputable open access journals—including those published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS)—these phony publications recoup costs by charging authors fees. However, any similarities stop there. While some have chosen names that are nearly identical to prestigious scientific publications, their quality is decidedly sub-par.

And it gets worse. Many of these phony publishers approach scientists by email, soliciting papers for their publication. It’s only after submission that the unwary scientist learns he or she owes the publication thousands of dollars. Others ask professionals to be on an editorial board only to use their legitimate reputation to promote exploitative conferences that dupe other scientists into exorbitant participation fees. Because it’s extremely difficult to remove your name from a phony journal’s website, associating with them may tarnish your reputation for years.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help science jobseekers research journals before paper submission. Scholarly Open Access is a good place to begin. Along with providing critical analysis, the website maintains a list of questionable open access journals and publishers. If the journal you’re considering is not listed, it’s still best to take your assessment further. Legitimate scientific publications often belong to industry associations with selective membership, such as the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, so you should consult their rosters.

In addition to reading a few recently published articles to get a feel for the quality, consider these common red flags that indicate a publication credit in a particular journal may do your career more harm than good.
  • Emailed submission or editorial board solicitation
  • A “contact us” page that only includes a web form
  • Lack of verifiable address or phone numbers for the publisher’s headquarters
  • No information (or confusing information) on fees for publication
  • Poorly designed website with distracting advertising, dead links and typographical errors
  • Journals that are excessively broad in scope (such as the Journal of Science)
  • Journals that combine unrelated fields (such as the Journal of Science and Travel)
  • Journal titles only slightly different from other scientific publications
  • Publishers with “Network,” “Association,” or “Institute” in their names when they are actually a single entity
  • A copyright transfer requirement
  • Promises of “rapid publication”
While biopharma employers like to see candidates with publications credits on their CVs, disreputable journals can hurt your chances of securing a job. As the prevalence of phony publications increases, so does the notoriety. You can be certain more hiring managers and recruiters will be vetting the quality of jobseekers’ journal credits in the future.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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