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Predatory Publishing

What is a Predatory Publisher?

What is a Predatory Publisher?

A predatory publisher is an exploitative publishing company that exploits the need to publish but offers little in return for using their services.

The academic need to publish combined with the growth of Open Access journals has created an environment that is ripe for exploitation of authors. Some publishers are intentionally predatory, while others make mistakes for a variety of reasons, such as inexperience or mismanagement. While experiences with predatory publishers can differ, the goals of these groups are often the same: to make money from authors without adhering to established standards and best practices.

Think. Check. Submit. is an organization that helps researchers identify trusted journals for their research. The video above takes you through their process.

Tips for Avoiding Dubious Journals and Conferences

  • Only attend well-established conferences that are connected with a reputable university or known association
  • Solicit feedback from peers
  • Take an in-depth look at the website of the journal/conference in question
  • Critically examine some of the publisher's articles
  • Check if the journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Check if the journal is listed in the Serials Directory
  • Check if the publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • Contact a librarian if you need assistance evaluating a journal or conference.

For more indicators of quality in journals or conferences, visit the Identifying Predatory Journals and Identifying Predatory Conferences pages.

Identifying Predatory Journals

There are a number of factors to be considered when evaluating a journal to determine if it is a legitimate or a predatory publisher. Presence or absence of one indicator does not determine a journal's legitimacy. The cumulative effect of indicators is what matters.

Indicators of a Legitimate Journal

  • The journal is included in subject databases/indexes
  • If the journal is open access, if is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • If the publisher is open access, if it is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • Any fees fpr publishing in the journal are easily found on the website and clearly explained
  • The editor and editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • The journal has an ISSN
  • The journal clearly indicates copyright at the article level
  • The journal is affiliated with an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • The primary audience of the journal is researchers/practitioners
  • The scope of the journal is clearly stated
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal
  • Articles meet the standards of the discipline
  • Articles have DOIs.

Top Indicators of a Potential Predatory Journal

  • No information is provided about the publisher
  • Information provided about the publisher does not indicate a relationship with sharing research content
  • The publisher "About" section is absent on the website
  • The direct marketing/advertising from the publisher is obtrusive
  • Journal website is difficult to locate/identify
  • The journal's scope statement is vague or absent
  • There is no peer review or copyright information available, or it is unclear if it is available
  • Instructions to authors or similar information is not available

Other Indicators of Potential Predatory Journals

  • Manuscript submission is done via email and not an online submission system
  • The publisher email is a Google/Yahoo/non-business or educational type account
  • Editors and members of the editorial board have false credentials or credentials that cannot be easily verified
  • It is difficult to find contact information on the website
  • The physical location or address cannot be verified
  • Website looks rudimentary, links don't work
  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • The owner of the publisher is also an editor of the journal
  • Editorial boards are duplicated between journals
  • There are no academic credentials provided for editors, editorial board, or review board
  • Rapid time to publication (a few days/weeks from submission)
  • Credentials for editors or the editorial board are not appropriate for the journal's discipline (i.e. a STEM Librarian as editor of a rhetoric journal)
  • False indexing claims
  • Exaggerated citation counts
  • No retraction policy
  • No errata policy
  • Unverifiable or inflated impact factor
  • Offers to publish a paper and then asks for a fee after, with no previous discussion of author fees
  • The publisher sends unsolicited emails with flattering comments inviting submissions to the journal
  • Journal title is almost identical to that of an established, well-respected journal
  • Country named in the title is not the country where the journal publisher is located
  • Editors are published heavily in the journals they edit
  • Archives links lead to empty pages or simply don't work
  • The range of disciplines featured is overly broad.

Identifying Predatory Conferences

There are a number of factors to be considered when evaluating a conference to determine if it is legitimate or predatory. Presence or absence of one indicator does not determine a conference's legitimacy. The cumulative effect of indicators is what matters.

Indicators of a Legitimate Conference

  • The conference website if free from spelling or grammatical errors
  • The conference website has full contact details for questions
  • The conference is sponsored by/in partnership with a reputable, established group
  • The conference program is available
  • Conference proceedings are published/indexes/made available after the event
  • Keynote speakers are recognized experts in the field
  • Expectations and instructions for authors regarding submissions are clearly stated on the website
  • Submissions for papers/presentations/posters undergo a review process for acceptance

Indicators of a Potential Predatory Conference

  • Pressure to register quickly to "reserve" a spot
  • Registration is required to obtain information about the conference
  • The stated purpose of the conference is vague
  • Conference organizers offer multiple conferences at many locations at the same time
  • Conference organizer sends unsolicited email invitations to new conferences.