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Predatory Publishers

Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Ellen Dubinsky

Think. Check. Submit.

Ways to Identify Predatory Journals

  • Rapid publication is promised
  • The homepage language targets authors
  • The journal does not have clear policies on retraction, corrections/errata, or plagiarism (see the ICMJE Recommendations for more detailed discussion about best practices)
  • Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking
  • The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal related
  • Manuscripts are requested to be submitted by email instead of through an online submission system
  • Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright
  • Article processing and/or publication charge is very low (e.g. < $150)
  • Information on whether and how journal content will be archived and preserved is absent
  • Scope of journal is not clear
  • Website contains spelling and grammatical errors

(Adapted from Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., Clark, J., Galipeau, J., Roberts, J., & Shea, B.J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine 15(1) 28.


Other Red Flags

  • No ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
  • Not indexed by MEDLINE, Scopus, PsycINFO, Web of Science, or other legitimate abstracting or indexing services or databases
  • Journal title mirrors the title of an established journal with one or two words being different
  • Journal is not published by reputable or known publisher
  • Journal sends unsolicited email invitations for submissions, reviewers, or to serve on its editorial board
  • Looks like a trade journal, not a scholarly journal
  • Advertising is accepted

Quality Indicators for Open Access Journals

The following are positive indicators that a journal or publisher is not predatory:

  • Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • Journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
  • Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal web site and clearly explained
  • Articles have DOIs
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
  • Journal has an ISSN (check the validity of the ISSN using ISSN Portal)
  • Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb Global Serials Directory
  • Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Journal is included in legitimate abstracting or indexing services or databases (such as MEDLINE, Scopus, PsycINFO, Web of Science)

Before You Submit

Ask the following: