"Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices" (Grudniewicz et al., 2019).
Note: This term was originally coined by Jeffrey Beall. (See the Resources for further information.)
- Take advantage of the open access publishing model, which relies on Article Publishing Charges (APCs) from authors, to make money.
- Exploit the need for academics to publish in order to meet promotion and tenure or grant funding requirements. Predatory journals target novice faculty members who face pressure to publish and are less familiar with traditional publishing business practices.
- Use deception to appear legitimate by through making false claims on their website and in email solicitation including false impact factors and association affiliation along with listing journal editors, who did not agree to be an editor, or using fake names to populate the editorial board.
- List journals that may be plagiarized, completely fake, or promoting unsound science that would not have been published in more mainstream journals.
- Making false claims about services offered including expedited peer review to get your article published quicker.
- Use unethical business practices such as charging exorbitant author publishing fees. Predatory publishers may, also, promise low article processing fees. However, once an article is "published," the publisher will invoice the author a much larger price than originally quoted.
Dangers of Publishing in a Predatory Journal
Lack of Peer-Review: Predatory publishers often promise rigorous, yet speedy peer-review process even though rigorous peer-review is a time-consuming process. In reality, predatory publishers often publish papers that have not gone through any peer-review process.
The peer-review process: establishes the validity of research; prevents falsified work from being accepted and published; and allows authors to revise and improve papers prior to publication.
Your Work Could Disappear: Unlike legitimate publishers, predatory publishers are not committed to preserving your published work. Papers published in predatory journals could disappear from their website at any time making it difficult to prove that your paper was ever published in said journal when applying for promotion or tenure.
- Your Work Will be Difficult to Find: Predatory publishers often claim to be indexed in popular databases, when they are not actually indexed in these resources. Fortunately, it is easy to double check this claim by doing a simple search for the journal in these databases.
- Your Reputation may be Harmed: Publishing in a predatory journal can hurt your along with your institution's reputation and may effect your career advancement.
Common Signs of Predatory Publishers
Qualities of Reputable Journals
Note: No single checklist determines if a journal or publisher is legitimate or predatory.
- Journal website
- Journal's scope is well defined and clearly stated on the journal's website
- Peer-review process is rigorous and clearly explained on website
- Fee structure is clearly explained and easy to find on website
- Editors and editorial board consists of recognized experts in the field
- Journal is affiliated with or was established by scholarly or academic institution or organization
- Journal is hosted on one of INASP’s Journals Online platforms (for journals published in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Central America and Mongolia) or on African Journals Online (AJOL, for journals published in African).
- Journal Articles
- Articles fall within the scope of the publication
- Articles have Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) (Search International DOI Foundation to verify the DOI matches the article name.)
- Journal has an ISSN verified by The ISSN Portal that matches the journal title..
- Note: Having an ISSN "does not guarantee the quality or validity of the contents" (What is an ISSN?)
- Journal has a impact factor from a reputable index.
- Copyright and usage rights are clearly stated (e.g. Creative Commons License CC By license)
- Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
- Some questionable journals appear in directories such as DOAJ, so this should not be your only criteria when evaluating journals.
- Publisher is a member:
- Journal is indexed in subject databases or indexes.
Note: Inclusion of articles from a journal in GoogleScholar or ResearchGate should not factor into determining the quality of the journal article. Also, see Manca et al. (2018) for discussion of potential predatory journals in PubMed.
- Contact information is clearly provided and available
- Publishing schedule and publication frequency is clearly stated
- Solicitation of manuscripts and other direct marketing are appropriate, well-targeted, and unobtrusive
This guide is intended to provide information about predatory publishing and is intended as a guide only. Deciding where to publish is solely the responsibility of individual authors.
This guide was adapted from Predatory Publishing, George Washington University.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.