Skip to Main Content

Where to Publish Your Research: Predatory Publishing

Predatory Journals? What To Look For

Predatory open access publishing is an exploitative is an exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not).

Beall's List- For many years, Jeffery Beall, a librarian at University of Colorado maintained a list  of "predatory publishers" on his website.  The list has always been a source of much debate among both scholars and the publisher community.  That list was taken down in January, 2017. 

ARCHIVED LIST (As of January, 2017) Beall's List: Potential, Possible, or Probable Predatory Scholarly Open-Access Publishers 
This is Beall's final list, as hosted in the Internet Archive.

Checklist designed to help researchers determine whether or not to publish in a journal. Created by the Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives.





Predatory Publishers

An unfortunate side-effect of the growth of high-quality open access journals is the number of 'predatory' open access publishers that have also sprung up. These publishers essentially accept as many articles as possible in order to make as much money as possible. These journals provide little or no peer-review and editorial services, and as a result the quality of the articles they publish is poor.

It is important to be aware of the practices of predatory publishers; informative articles on the subject have been published by Nature and the Open Science Initiative.

Predatory journals can sometimes be hard to spot. Their websites can look professional, while making claims that are untrue. For example, saying that they have an Impact Factor when they do not, or claiming recognised experts are on the editorial board when they are not.

How to spot 'predatory' journals and publishers:

  • How quickly are they offering to publish? If they offer a very fast turn-around time for publication, then be suspicious. 
  • Where is the journal listed? Assuming the journal is an open access journal, check that it is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) which lists reputable open access journals. Quality Open Access Market also has information about the transparency and author experience of different journals. You can also check if it is on INSAP's Journals Online platforms (for journals published in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Central America and Mongolia) or on African Journals Online (AJOL) for African journals.
  • Who is the publisher? Check that the publisher is a member of a trade association such as Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) or International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM).
  • Who is on the editorial board? Check that the editorial board of the journal are recognised experts in their field. Sometimes predatory journals list people as editors without their knowledge. Check that the people listed as editors are actually editors! E.g. check their profiles on their university website to ensure they mention their role as an editor of that journal.
  • Take a look at the journal. If the journal appears to have a back-catalogue of articles/issues, make sure they are accessible; look at the quality of the research published in the journal; check that there is verifiable contact information about the publisher e.g. an address and working telephone number, not just a web form; check that there is a clear statement of what fees will be charged, what they are for and when they will be charged.

Acknowledgements: This advice on predatory journals was adapted with permission from RCSI Library


Predatory Conferences

 Predatory conferences, in a similar way to predatory publishers, send unsolicited emails or contact people through LinkedIn asking them to speak at a conference. They may take fees for attendance at events that never happen or else are not what was advertised – for instance a whole range of disparate conferences turn out to be in the same venue. This news report from CBC highlighted some examples.

If you have been approached by unknown publishers or conferences to write, speak or attend, always be cautious and check out the credentials of any publisher or conference organiser before signing up. Speak to colleagues or check the details online to see if they are credible. Bear in mind that some predatory conferences have been known to use names and photos of prominent academics without their permission.

The further checks you can make are similar to those for predatory publishers outlined on Think Check Submit. Signs that should concern you include:

  • Instructions to pay a registration fee despite being an invited speaker
  • Poor English, bad editing and grammar
  • Vague information on the exact venue
  • Very general wording in the description of the conference topic

What you can do:

  • Speak to colleagues to see if it is a conference that is known to them
  • See if you can find presentations or papers from the same conference in previous years
  • See if other conferences are being advertised in the same venue simultaneously

CalTech also maintain a list of questionable conferences.