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Writing & Publication Hub

Guides to various resources to support writing and citation in different contexts

What is Predatory Publishing?

Predatory publishing is an exploitative practice that uses the promise of fast, open access publication to extract money from authors and researchers. Often, predatory journals will charge high fees to publish in their journal, but provide little to no peer review, editing, or oversight of the content. In practice, this means they take money from (usually) well-meaning researchers but do not provide any of the services that a publisher is supposed to provide. This means that good research can languish in poor quality journals with little research impact, and that bad research can be easily published due to the lack of peer review or editing.

It is important to note that while most predatory publishers share certain characteristics, some of these characteristics are also shared with newly created journals and journals from developing countries. Reviewing the quality of a journal requires a careful examination and subjective appraisal of it, using your best judgment. It is also important to note that journal quality is not an indication of research quality. There are many good articles published in bad journals, and plenty of bad research published in journals with good reputations.

Characteristics of predatory publishing:

  • Soliciting for articles or asking to serve on editorial boards
    • Especially in the form of badly-edited emails
  • High author publishing fees
  • Little or no peer review of submitted articles
  • Difficult to identify names and/or contact information for journal editors
  • The website seems extremely similar to, but is not, the website of an established journal

comic about being fooled by a fake scholarly journal


The Risks of Predatory Publishing

  • The cost associated with high publishing fees
  • Your work may be subject to sub-par peer-review
  • Your publication will have low visibility and get few citations
  • Your article could disappear when the journal ceases to exist
  • Serving on questionable journal boards will lower reputation
  • Publishing in predatory journals could have an adverse affect on your professional repuatation

Sketchy Publisher Examples

Below are links to a couple of online journal publishers of questionable quality. They can act as useful examples of red flags to look for when evaluating journals.

Email Solicitation Example

Screenshot of an example of a predatory email. This email has poorly formatted name information, multiple spellling and grammar mistakes, and vague and confusing instructions.

This is an example of an actual solicitation email an ATSU librarian has previously received. Note the improper name and title, use of informal language and styling, poor spelling and grammar, and overall confusing message.

Useful Resources

Library Support

If you need help identifying the quality of a journal, reach out to your liaison librarian for assistance. We can help you evaluate the quality of a journal and teach you some tips and tricks for how to evaluate a journal on your own. We can also help you identify high-quality journals that are a good match for your research.