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Predatory Publishing

Guide about predatory publishing in academia and tools for evaluating predatory journals and 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;

Resources to help verify journals

Red Flags: Know the Signs of Predatory Publishers

If you're 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:
    • Main red flag: Journals don't commonly need to ask for articles directly.
    • Other red flags: 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:
    • Main red flag: 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, &c.)
  • Misleading geographic information:
    • Main red flag: the journal title might suggest that it is based in the United States or England, but the publisher might actually be based in another country
  • Unprofessional Website Appearance:
    • Main red flag: the website does not have a professional appearance :(typos, targeted advertisements)
    • Other red flags: 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: 
    • Main red flag: the journal fail to provide you with full contact information, including a physical address, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses; only provide a web contact form.
  • Lack of Editors or Editorial Board:
    • Main red flag: the members of the journal's editorial board are not listed on the website
  • Editors with No or Fake Academic Credentials:
    • Main red flag: the people listed are not recognized experts in the field and their credentials are not included.
  • Unclear Author Fee Structures:
    • Main red flag: 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:
    • Main red flag: no impact factor or one that is fabricated; cf. Incites Journal Citation Reports.
  • Invented Metrics:
    • Main red flag: metrics are not standard; other reputable journals don't use these metrics.
  • False Index Claims:
    • Main red flag: journal isn't indexed in reputable places, or can't be verified on UlrichsWeb
  • Peer Review Process:
    • Main red flag: journal's peer review process is unclear or not actually followed;
    • Other red flags: speedy or expedited peer review process.
  • No ISSNs
  • ‚Äč"Instructions for Authors" Information is Unavailable
  • Evaluate Published Articles:
    • Main red flag: published articles are not available on the site
    • Other red flags: 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: