Skip to content

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, research papers have been fast-tracked to publication. The pandemic has necessitated significant shifts in the scholarly publishing model that have resulted in research being made available at record speeds and, for most major publishers, available at no cost. Preprints have become mainstream. While many see these as positive changes, there is a darker side to this shift in scholarly publishing.

Predatory journals, known for their lack of peer review and willingness to publish any article written by someone able to pay the required Article Processing Charges (APCs), have been largely forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic. Predatory journals are known for their promises of “rapid” publication. But in the time of COVID-19, quick publication has become the norm even among legitimate and highly respected journals. This has led to questions about the quality of peer review and has led to frequent retractions of COVID-19 related articles. 

In a recent article published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Teixeria da Silva (2020) states that “the risks to the scholarly community, academic publishing and ultimately public health are at stake when exploitative and predatory publishing are left unchallenged.” Academics and the media alike are reading, discussing and trusting content that has not undergone a rigorous peer review process. “If one considers that this explosion in literature is directly affecting human lives and public health, astute academics need to be able to sift through pro-preprint propaganda, as well as poorly conducted peer review and editorial processing in peer reviewed journals, in order to be able to distinguish valid from invalid research” (Teixeria da Silva, 2020). 

A recent study of predatory publishing in the COVID-19 era analyzed the prevalence of COVID-19-related articles published in known predatory journals. Between January and May 2020, the study found 350 articles were published in 109 predatory journals, and five of these journals were indexed in PubMed/MEDLINE (Vervoort & Shrime, 2020). The study estimated that the amount of money spent to cover APCs for these articles totaled $33,807.41 (Vervoort & Shrime, 2020). 

Vervoort and Shrime (2020) highlighted three major concerns about predatory journals in light of the pandemic:

  1. "Loss of potential valuable biomedical and epidemiological information."
  2. "Spread of misinformation with potentially harmful or negligent consequences."
  3. "Money earned off of unknowing authors in times where many scientists and clinicians have taken pay cuts."

Retraction Watch highlighted a sting article entitled “SARS-CoV-2 was Unexpectedly Deadlier than Push-scooters: Could Hydroxychloroquine be the Unique Solution?” by authors claiming to be from “The Institute for Quick and Dirty Science” in Switzerland. The goal of this sting article was “to highlight a concerning paper in the Asian Journal of Medicine and Health, which they and others suspect of being a predatory publication” (Marcus, 2020). The “concerning paper” included among its authors several hydroxychloroquine partisans, and contains “errors of analysis, raises regulatory questions and sometimes misunderstand the appropriate terms” (Marcus, 2020). 

The authors of the paper in question had claimed that their article was “proof of the efficacy of HCQ,” and that the journal in which it was published was “as serious as the Lancet” (Marcus, 2020). In an effort to prove that this same journal would indeed publish anything as long as the APC has been paid, the sting article authors set out to write and publish a bogus article in this journal. The article was indeed published! Although it has since been retracted due to “serious scientific fraud,” it would not have been published at all had any real peer review taken place prior to publication.

While there is a real need for legitimate research to be published quickly in order to increase our knowledge about COVID-19, authors and readers alike should remember that predatory journals have not taken time off during the pandemic. “The academic community has the duty to respond to these deeply perverse practices, and thereby protect fellow researchers and combat misinformation” (Vervoort & Shrime, 2020). 



Marcus, A. (2020). Hydroxychloroquine, push-scooters, and COVID-19: A journal gets stung and swiftly reacts. Retraction Watch,

Teixeira da Silva. (2020). An alert to COVID-19 literature in predatory publishing venues. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. (46)5.

Vervoort, D., Ma, X., & Shrime, M. (2020). Money down the drain: predatory publishing in the COVID-19 era. Canadian Journal of Public Health.

Photo by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash

Are you looking to publish your research, but need to find a journal in which to publish? Want to find a journal that will ensure your article will be widely read and cited? Choosing where to submit your manuscript can be a daunting task for any researcher. But don’t despair - Himmelfarb Library has resources that can help.

A great place to start is our Journal Selection webinar, part of Himmelfarb’s Get Yourself Published, Promote Your Research webinar series. In this webinar, Sara Hoover, Metadata and Scholarly Communications Librarian, provides an overview of tools and resources that can help you select an appropriate journal for your research. Learn about the difference between aggregation based journal selection tools and publisher based journal selection tools and utilize comparison rubrics to evaluate multiple publications. Additionally, you’ll have a chance to locate journals relevant to your field of study. 

Want to explore some tools to help you choose a journal? Himmelfarb’s Scholarly Publishing Guide has links to numerous tools that can help you select the right journal for your research. Two useful tools to consider are the Cofactor Journal Selector and the Journal/Article Name Estimator (JANE). The Cofactor Journal Selector can help you identify a journal in which to publish based on subject, peer review, open access, speed of review and other considerations. JANE takes a different approach by allowing you to enter your article title and/or abstract and providing a list of potential journals that may be appropriate for your submission.

Another strategy is to search the Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC), Himmelfarb’s institutional repository. You can search the HSRC by discipline, collection, or school to see where your colleagues have published their research. You could also search for articles on your topic in PubMed and identify potential journals to consider for your research.

An important consideration to keep in mind when choosing a journal is whether or not the journal is predatory in nature. Predatory journals make false peer-review claims while collecting exorbitant fees from authors who publish in their journals. Because these journals do not actually provide peer-review services, your article could be published next to bogus research and will not be widely read or cited. If you’re going to publish, make sure you are choosing a legitimate, scholarly journal for your work! To learn more about predatory publishing, including how to evaluate a journal to determine whether or not it is predatory, check out our Predatory Publishing Guide.

While choosing a journal that’s right for your research isn’t an easy task, librarians can be a great resource for authors in selecting the right journal. If you are getting ready to publish, don’t fret - Himmelfarb has resources that can help!

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous, extraordinary challenges which have greatly altered our everyday lives.  This public health crisis has led to a demand for information as there is a universal desire for solutions to the problems of protecting ourselves from the virus and curing those who have been infected.  As research efforts have accelerated to meet these demands there has been a growing tension as the desire for quick, potentially lifesaving information has led to the spread of inaccurate or misunderstood reports which have been seized upon by large portions of the lay public.  This tension within the scientific world between speed and certainty is not new, but the current pandemic has made it more obvious to all.

The world of scientific publishing is notoriously slow and deliberate, as processes like peer-review have long provided a check on the flow of scientific information to ensure quality before the results of research are disseminated to the wider scientific community and ultimately to the public.  However during this ongoing crisis, there has been a rise in the publication of pre-prints (i.e., manuscripts which have not undergone formal peer review) as researchers try to get their potentially life-saving information into the hands of clinicians and policy makers as soon as possible.  Pre-print services, such as ArXiv in the physics community, have existed for a long time, but they are now receiving more attention than ever.

Rapid Reviews COVID-19In an effort to add a gate-keeper function to the growing world of COVID-19 related pre-prints, MIT Press and the University of California have developed Rapid Reviews: COVID-19, a so-called “overlay journal”, whose function is to sift through the most popular COVID-19 related pre-prints and provide a form of peer-review.   This differs from the traditional publishing model as the pre-prints will be selected by editors of the journal as opposed to being directly submitted by the authors themselves.  In fact, though authors will be informed that their work has been selected for review by the journal, they will not have a say in whether their pre-print is reviewed or not.  Additionally this journal will differ from others in that the identities of the reviewers will be made known, which will hopefully encourage thoughtful and careful reviews.

It is hoped that this effort will provide some of the benefits of the traditional peer-review process without significantly slowing the dissemination of important, life-saving information during this time of crisis.  It will be interesting to see if efforts like this can lead to more long-lasting changes in the world of scholarly communication when our current time of crisis has passed.

Crumpled paper and a paper airplane on a dark blue background
Photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash

As Himmelfarb Library begins the transition into Our New Normal, you may have questions about where to access certain services and resources we provide. Here’s a guide on what you’ll find available online and in-person.


All of our e-journals, e-databases, and e-books remain available online. We also provide our Documents2Go service entirely online, where you can request articles unavailable in our collection.

We offer instructions on downloading and installing our mobile apps to your device.

There is a host of information available on our Research Guides, everything from question banks to anatomy images, and much more!

Himmelfarb’s Reference team is also available online. Our chat service is monitored by reference staff 8:30AM-8PM EST Monday through Thursday and 8:30AM-5PM EST Friday. Have a question a little too involved for chat? We can also schedule individual meetings with a reference librarian via WebEx. Email us at to start the process!


In addition to our print collection available in our book stacks, you can also find our multimedia collection, audiovisual collection, and software resources on the third floor, in the Bloedorn Technology Center.

Our special collections, the Humanities & Health collection, Historical collection, and Healthy Living collection, are all accessible in-person.

Some of our older journals are kept in on-site storage as bound volumes. You can request a specific volume for perusal by following the instructions on our Borrowing and Requesting page.

Anatomy models are available in various places throughout the library. Our skeletal models and bone boxes are up on the third floor. Heart and brain models can be checked out at the Circulation desk.

If you have any questions about access as we move forward with Our New Normal, reach out to us at or call the Circulation Desk at 202-994-2962.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Himmelfarb Library would like to welcome all of our new users! Whether you are a new resident, fellow, physician assistant or public health student, we welcome you to the GW community! Himmelfarb is ready to serve you and help make your experience here a positive one. You may be curious about what Himmelfarb has to offer and how you can make the most of our resources and services. Here are the top five things we’d like you to know about Himmelfarb:

1) Getting Research Help is Easy!

Our reference librarians are available to answer your questions and provide research support when and where you need help. Get your research and library-related questions answered right from your computer by using the Ask a Librarian service! Reference librarians are available to answer your texts and instant message questions Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-8:00pm, and Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm. 

2) Himmelfarb Resources are Available Anytime, Anywhere.

Himmelfarb’s 100 databases, 4,100 journals, and 4,500 e-books are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our e-book collection includes most major textbooks from most fields. Install the LibKey Nomad Google Chrome browser extension for seamless and speedy access to full-text articles available through Himmelfarb. After installing the extension, choose ‘George Washington University - Himmelfarb Library’ as your institution, and you’ll be all set. For more information about accessing Himmelfarb’s online resources including tips for navigating articles, check out our E-Resources FAQs page.

To access our electronic resources from off-campus, we recommend connecting to the GW VPN. The Himmelfarb off-campus access page provides additional information about installing the VPN and accessing electronic resources with your GW NetID. Many of our resources are also available as mobile apps for download on your mobile devices. 

3) 3D Printing is Available!

Himmelfarb has a 3D printer available for use by faculty, staff and students in SMHS, SON, GWSPH, the GW Hospital and the MFA. 3D printing will be available once the library opens its doors again. For more information about 3D printing at Himmelfarb, check out our 3D Printing Guide.

4) If We Don’t Have It, We’ll Do Our Best To Get It For You.

While we attempt to make our collection as robust as possible, we don’t have access to everything. In the event that we don’t have access to a resource that you need, you can place a request through our Interlibrary Loan/Documents2Go service. Through this service, we are able to work with a nationwide network of libraries to obtain a copy of a needed resource on your behalf. Articles are normally delivered within 24-72 hours. Interested in learning more about this service? Check our in-depth Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery guide.

5) The Health Sciences Research Commons Can Expand the Reach of Your Research!

Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC) is Himmelfarb’s institutional repository, and is a perfect place for you to share your research output during your time at GW. All faculty, researchers, students (with the sponsorship of a faculty member), and staff affiliated with SMHS, SON, GWSPH at GW are eligible to submit their scholarly works to HSRC. By placing your work in HSRC, your work will be easily shareable and discoverable via Google Scholar and other search engines. If you have questions about the HSRC, take a look at the FAQ page or contact Sara Hoover (, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian, for more information.

This top five list is just a glimpse into all that Himmelfarb has to offer! In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have numerous research guides on a wide variety of topics. Tutorials are also available on a variety of topics. Himmelfarb welcomes you to the GW community! 



LibKey NomadLibKey Nomad now works with Scopus and Web of Science to get you to full-text faster!

LibKey Nomad is a Chrome browser extension that can connect you to articles in Himmelfarb Library’s collection.  LibKey Nomad previously worked with multiple sources including PubMed, publisher sites, and even Wikipedia - and Scopus and Web of Science have been added to this list.  LibKey Nomad immediately delivers a PDF if available, and will otherwise provide you Himmelfarb full-text and document delivery options.

LibKey Nomad provides a 'Download PDF' link as the first option, and if that's not possible will provide other full-text links and Documents2Go document delivery options via Himmelfarb Library.  LibKey Nomad can also connect you to a table of contents for the specific issue to allow you to explore that issue for related items.

LibKey Nomad-integrated links in Scopus

To use LibKey Nomad, download LibKey Nomad from the Chrome Web Store page.  After you install the extension, choose ‘George Washington University – Himmelfarb Library’ as your institution, and you’re good to go!

Please contact Laura Abate ( with questions or comments.

The journal Academic Medicine is soliciting original submissions from medical students, residents, and fellows related to COVID-19 for their Letters to the Editor feature. Editors are looking for pieces that emphasize courage and connection in light of the global pandemic. More specifically, editors want to hear how COVID-19 might be contributing to health care and healthcare education in a positive manner. 

More information related to the call for papers can be found here in a blog post from Academic Medicine. Letters of 400 words or less should come from students, residents, and fellows and should be submitted here by 5pm EST on Monday, June 1st, 2020. 

If you need writing support, the Himmelfarb Library has tools to help. Make a distance appointment with the Writing Center or utilize RefWorks to manage citations. 

Most of us are aware of the critical information resources on COVID-19 provided by the CDC and WHO. Many trusted publishers and literature search services in the health sciences now have devoted sites with resources for health care and public health professionals. These resources and more are now available on Himmelfarb’s Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research Guide.

Here’s a sampling of resources on the guide:

Along with these resources you can find trusted sources for news, clinical guidelines, drug trials, health department information, and protective measures for health care professionals on the Research Guide

Do you know of resources not included on our guide that you would like to recommend? Send them to or

Journal of Pathology Logo

Are you interested in pathology? Do you want to read current articles published in a highly ranked pathology journal? Himmelfarb Library provides access to the Journal of Pathology

Published by the Pathological Society, the Journal of Pathology focuses on pathophysiological and pathogenetic mechanisms of human disease. Started in 1893 as the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, today the journal is ranked among the top ten journals pathology journals in Journal Citation Reports (JCR) with a 5 year impact factor of 6.424. 

Recent popularly accessed articles include:

Take a look at the most recent issue and discover what this journal has to offer!


Did you know that Himmelfarb Library provides a specialized web page available to our GW Hospital users? Here you will be able to find access to databases, ebooks, and e-journals that are available to you.

Himmelfarb’s website for GW Hospital users tries to maximize access and convenience:

  • No login required: resources listed can be accessed without logging in.
  • Automatic display of customized webpage; simply locate the Himmelfarb web page from a GWU Hospital location it will display automatically.

Information tools are optimized for clinical use and include:

  • DynaMed: evidence-based, clinically organized topics that are constantly updated as the study of medicine grows. The content ranges from comprehensive reviews of diseases and conditions, to abnormal findings based on differential diagnosis and management. You can also download the DynaMed mobile app to get easy access on your mobile devices!
  • Lexicomp: comprehensive clinical drug information includes access to a drug interaction checker, drug ID Tool, and calculators.
  • ClinicalKey and ClinicalKey for Nursing: full-text access to key books, journals, drug information, clinical overviews and more.

To explore the full selection of resources available to GW Hospital users, select Databases, Hospital e-Journals, or Hospital e-Books from the homepage.  Each of these pages will help you locate resources that can be accessed from the GW Hospital and without entering a login/password. If you have a GW NetID, you can view a complete list of available resources by changing to the default library webpage or by changing the view on an individual page (i.e. toggling from Hospital E-Journals to All E-Journals.

If you have questions, please contact!



GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.