8 Identifying Predatory Publishers

Characteristics of Predatory Publishers

In order to avoid predatory publishers, you have to be able to identify them. If you are not familiar with a journal or it’s publisher, evaluate it carefully.

Common characteristics of predatory publishers:

  • Website design: amateurish or outdated webpage
  • Journal metrics: a predatory journal will often list fake journal metrics like “impact index”
  • Contact information: contact information for the journal is hard to find or there is no contact email
  • Editorial board: there is little information about the editorial board
  • Manuscript publication: guaranteed publication or an unrealistically short publication time is promised
    • Journal may not be peer reviewed, or it my advertise a shortened peer review
  • Journal focus: journal subject areas seem random and unrelated, or very broad
  • Poor writing: errors or poor writing is present on the webpage or in articles, some articles may be plagiarized
  • Submission guidelines: guidelines are vague and short, may not mention peer review
  • Solicitation: unsolicited emails asking for submissions, these emails often contain misleading information and may be poorly targeted to you

Note: if a journal has one of these characteristics, it is not necessarily predatory, but the more characteristics it has the more likely it is to be predatory.



How to check if a journal is predatory:
  • Is the journal listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
    • This directory is a curated list of legitimate Open Access journals, however not all legitimate Open Access journals are listed here
  • Check Beall’s List
    • Beall’s List is a now-discontinued list of potential predatory publishers
  • Ask a professor in your research area
    • Your professor will know the best places to submit and the ones to avoid
  • Ask your librarian for help
  • Google it!
    • Search the journal name and the word “predatory,” take a look at the information that comes up
Learn more about identifying predatory publishers:

Read the article The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics for more characteristics of predatory publishers: https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11019-016-9740-3

Watch this video from the University of Manitoba for a good overview on identifying predatory publishers:





When in doubt, don’t submit!

If you are unsure about the quality of a journal, it is best to err on the side of caution. If you find evidence a journal may be predatory, but you are still unsure, be safe and choose another journal.

Read more about evaluating journals in the chapter Evaluating a Journal.



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Advanced Library Skills for Physics Research Copyright © 2020 by Lauren Stieglitz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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