Most open access (OA) journals abide by some set of rigorous criteria, such as the membership criteria set forth by the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). However, there are other OA journals that do not publish reputable work and are considered "predatory," meaning they only exist to exploit researchers and collect author fees.*
Predatory journals can often be difficult to distinguish from reputable OA journals, and some bogus publishers have been getting increasingly sophisticated. There are some red flags to look out for, however.
* Note that an author fee alone is not an indication that a journal is predatory. Because OA journals are not typically funded by the standard publishing model of subscription sales and/or advertisements, they are often reliant upon author fees (after peer review and/or acceptance) to cover publication costs. This has become a widely accepted publishing model in the past decade or so.
Think Check Submit is an excellent resource for determining whether or not you should publish in a journal or participate in a conference.
Sometimes, even after looking for red flags, it's still difficult to tell whether a journal is legitimate or not. For instance, new journals (especially from developing countries) can be mistakenly labeled as predatory.
This is an excellent list of criteria by which you can determine whether or not a journal is legitimate: Open Access Journal Quality Indicators
If you are having difficulty determining a journal's legitimacy, simply let us know. We have a few additional tricks up our sleeve that can help vet a source and determine reliability, and we're happy to help.
While it can be challenging to distinguish legitimate from questionable, there are lists of quality journals and publishers available, particularly for the open access sector.
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