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Predatory Publishing

A guide on predatory publishing, legitimate journal recommendations, and open access.

What is Predatory Publishing?

An exploitative practice that targets authors to submit articles to a journal, without providing the editorial or publishing services associated with legitimate journals.

Characteristics of predatory publishing:

  • Soliciting for articles or asking to serve on editorial boards 
  • High author publishing fees
  • Little or no peer review of submitted articles
  • Create a fake profile to seem like a traditional journal in terms of:
    • Website
    • Journal name
    • Editorial Board
    • Journal Metrics

comic about being fooled by a fake scholarly journal

Questions to consider for analyzing journals

First Contact

  • Were you contacted by email to submit an article for publication?
  • What types of articles are accepted in the journal?
  • Is their email or website filled with spelling and grammatical errors?
  • Did they promise rapid publication?
  • Is the email address non professional or non journal affiliated?
  • Are there upfront fees before decision on acceptance?

Research the Journal's website

  • Is the website aimed at authors or readers?
  • Is the language of author information taken directly from other places?
  • Is the journal's scope too broad?
  • Are the images of high quality of distorted and fuzzy?
  • Where is the journal indexed?
  • What are the authors fees?
  • Where are the editors based compared to where the journal is based?
  • Is there information on preserving the article digitally?

Research the Publisher

  • Can you easily identify the publisher?
  • Is there a link provided to the publisher's website?
  • Can you find the contact information for the publisher?
  • Does the publisher seem to have a journal in every discipline?

Adapted from Shamseer et al. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine. 15:28. DOI:

Risks to you

  • The cost associated with high fees.
  • Your work may be subject to sub-par peer-review.
  • Your publication will have low visibility or is difficult to find.
  • Your article could disappear when journal ceases to exist.
  • Serving on questionable journal boards will lower reputation.
  • Potential embarrassment from falling for a scam.

Useful Resources

Librarian Support

If you would like assistance evalauting journals, reach out to your liaison librarian. Librarians can help you with:

  • Reviewing email solicitations from editors or publishers
  • Analyze journal or publishers to see if they are predatory
  • Recommend safe journals to consider for publication