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Predatory (vs. Professional) Publishing

This guide is designed to help CSUN faculty navigate scholarly publishing, such as to determine which journals to publish in and/or serve on editorial boards.

Resources to help verify journals

Questionable journals and conferences

{both written by David H. Kaye, Distinguished Professor of Law at Penn State)

Red Flags: Know the Signs of Predatory Publishers

If you are not sure if a publisher is legitimate or predatory, be on the watch for the following red flags:

  • Direct e-mailed solicitations to submit an article:
    • Journals don't commonly need to ask for articles directly.
    • Email is not well written; i.e. includes typos or misspelled words; language awkward is or unprofessional; excessive praise and flattery to solicit your participation. 
  • The journal title is strangely similar to prominent journals in the same field:
    • The title is trying to make you believe it is similar to another well-respected journal (i.e. Science) or publisher with which you are already familiar. (i.e. Science Huβ, The Science Publishers, etc.)
  • Misleading geographic information:
    • The journal title might suggest that it is based in the U.S. or England, but the publisher might actually be based in another country.
  • Unprofessional Website Appearance:
    • The website does not have a professional appearance :(typos, targeted advertisements).
    • The 'About' section is incomplete or missing; aim or scope is not realistic; the journal is not sponsored or produced by a well-known, well-respected institution. 
  • Insufficient Contact Information: 
    • The journal does not provide full contact information, including a physical address, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; only a web contact form.
  • Lack of Editors or Editorial Board:
    • The members of the journal's editorial board are not listed on the website.
  • Editors with No or Fake Academic Credentials:
    • The people listed are not recognized experts in the field and their credentials are not included.
  • Unclear Author Fee Structures:
    • The policies regarding author fees are not easily located on the journals website, not clearly explained, or not comparable to other reputable open access journals. 
  • Bogus Impact Factors:
    • No impact factor or one that is fabricated, such as Incites Journal Citation Reports.
  • Invented Metrics:
    • Metrics are not standard or other reputable journals do not use these same metrics.
  • False Index Claims:
    • Journal isn't indexed in reputable places, or cannot be verified on UlrichsWeb.
  • Peer Review Process:
    • Journal's peer review process is unclear or not actually followed;
    • Speedy or expedited peer review process.
  • No ISSNs
  • ‚Äč"Instructions for Authors" Information is Unavailable
  • Evaluate Published Articles:
    • Published articles are not available on the site
    • Numerous articles were published by the same author(s); titles and abstracts seem inappropriate for the journal; articles not well-researched or based on sound science.
  • Publisher has a Negative Reputation (either from inclusion on Beall's List, Cabell's, or exclusion from 'top journal' lists). 

What are Predatory Publishers?

What is Predatory Publishing?

Online digital publishing has allowed new publishers that use questionable practices to thrive. These so-called predatory publishers solicit articles from faculty through spam email. Their goal is to exploit faculty need to publisher in exchange for an article processing fee (APC), which is used by legitimate open access publishers as a way to fund the publication.

TACTICS include:

  • Online presence showing webpages for bogus journals. Often articles are plagiarized, fake, or employ unsound reasoning or discredited theories not approved in mainstream journals
  • Falsified impact factors; false editor lists using unwilling or unwitting people or fake names;
  • Expedited or waived peer-review process
  • Special theme issues to recruit more colleagues
  • Questionable business practices, including excessive APCs, undisclosed publication fees;

Phony vs. Legit

Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (Infographics from the University of West Indies). Thank you to Rutgers Libraries.

Assessing journals

From an Open Access Week blog post, based on an article from Nature.

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