A ‘predatory publisher' is a publisher that charge authors substantial fees to publish their research but do not provide quality services (e.g. peer-review, editing, and marketing). These publishers will often send unsolicited emails to authors inviting them to submit a publication to their journal or conference. Predatory publishers usually have poor-quality peer-review processes (or no process at all), low editorial standards, and are usually not indexed in scholarly databases.
Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Unsolicited emails
- Strange titles: Journal or conference titles may sound similar to legitimate publications or may use vague terms.
- Unprofessional websites
- Indexing: Their journals will usually not be indexed in major databases.
- Peer review: The peer-review process may not be explained to authors and is often very quick or there may be no review process at all.
- Publishing fees: Predatory publishers sometimes charge extremely high publication fees and are usually not transparent about their fees or policies.
Predatory journals take advantage of open access publishing models to extract publication fees from authors. To find a legitimate open access journal, try searching the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
You can use Think, Check, Submit as a tool to assess publishers and journals.
In a nutshell:
- BE WARY! Good, reputable journals will not contact you directly unprompted
- Look at where it is from- email, names, spelling etc. Similar to a scam email.
- Check the list of Predatory Journals or Beall’s List
- Who is the editor and who is on the editorial board? The journal should be transparent about the membership of their editorial board, and the members of the board should be established and reputable.
- Are their contact details publicly available? Their contact details should be publicly available and should include an address for their offices.
- Are there charges? Does it detail them?
- Does the Journal have an ISSN?
- Is it on DOAJ? (If Open Access)
- Are there DOI's on each article?
- If in doubt, don’t do it, and contact the Open Scholarship Librarian or the library.