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Avoiding Predatory Publishers


What is a predatory publisher/journal?

Signs a journal may be predatory

Protect yourself

Predatory...or just fledgling?

Lists of trustworthy journals

Strange-but-true tales of predatory publishing

Suggested reading


What is a predatory publisher/journal?

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 However, there are other OA journals that do not publish reputable work and are considered "predatory," meaning they only exist to exploit researchers and collect author fees.*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.


Signs a journal may be predatory [1]

  •    Author or editorial board member solicitation via email (sometimes spam, sometimes personalized)
  •    Expedited "peer review" process/rapid publication promised
  •    Bogus impact factor
  •    Author fee expected before peer review or acceptance
  •    Odd capitalization and punctuation; misspellings and poor grammar; and generally unprofessional web/email design
  •    Images are distorted and/or fuzzy
  •    Title that is suspiciously similar to well-known journal's title (i.e. Journal of Communication in Healthcare [legitimate] vs. Journal of Healthcare Communications [predatory])
  •    Manuscript submission is via email
  •    No retraction policy
  •    No mention of copyright/author retaining copyright despite being open access
  •    Communication with publisher is only available via web contact form and/or personal email account(s)


Protect yourself

Think Check Submit is an excellent resource for determining whether or not you should publish in a journal or participate in a conference.


Predatory...or just fledgling?

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.


Lists of trustworthy journals

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.


Strange-but true tales of predatory publishing


Suggested reading




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