About Predatory Publishing
Predatory publishers or journals are those which charge authors a fee for publication with no intention of providing the expected services – such as editorial or peer review – in return. Charging a fee is a legitimate business model, but the publisher should be providing a good publishing service in return. Authors, realising that they have submitted their paper to a questionable publisher, can find they are charged a large fee if they want to withdraw their article.
The concept of ‘predatory’ journals has many names: fake journals, questionable journals, illegitimate journals, deceptive journals, dark journals, and journals “operating in bad faith”.
Predatory or not?
There are many journals which do not have the best editorial or technical standards, but which are applying reasonable basic processes to their articles and operating in good faith. Some caution is therefore advised when considering a journal: defects in a publisher’s processes may lead to it being labelled as predatory but the journal may simply lack resources – there may not be an intention to deceive.
Things to watch out for
A predatory journal/publisher may display one or more of these characteristics:
- A journal title which can be easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the journal’s origin, scope or association with other journals
- Very wide scope
- Displays of unofficial impact factors
- False claims of being indexed in major services like PubMed or DOAJ
- No publisher address or contact information
- Unclear ownership of the journal
- Spams researchers with many emails inviting submissions, often unrelated to expertise
- Advertises very fast times from submission to publication
- Publishes out-of-scope articles
- Publishes nonsense articles
- Poor or non-existent editing of articles (many spelling mistakes or very poor grammar)
- Hides information on charges
- No editorial board is listed, or the editorial board comprises dead or retired scholars or scholars who are not specialised in the topic
- Lack of information on the policies of the journal, such as peer review, licensing and copyright
More on Predatory Publishing
“Combatting Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences”, The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), March 2022
“Avoiding predatory publishers”, Lorraine Estelle, Think.Check.Submit.,COPE, February, 2022
“A qualitative content analysis of watchlists vs safelists: How do they address the issue of predatory publishing?”, Amy Koerber et al, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 46(6), November 2020
“Who reviews for predatory journals? A study on reviewer characteristics”, Anna Severin et al, bioRxiv, 11 March 2020
“Predatory Journals Publishing Trend in India: A Study”, Satyabrata Garanayak and Chennupati Kodand Ramaiah, 2019
“Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey”, Kelly D. Cobey et al, BMJ Open 2019
“Predatory publications in evidence syntheses”, Amanda Ross-White et al, Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2019, 107(1): 57-61
“Predatory publishers threaten to consume public research funds and undermine national academic systems – the case of Brazil”, Marcelo S. Perlin, Takeyoshi Imasato, and Denis Borenstein, LSE Impact of Social Science, 6 September 2018
“Is predatory publishing a real threat? Evidence from a large database study”, Marcelo S. Perlin, Takeyoshi Imasato, and Denis Borenstein, Scientometrics, 116, 255-273 (2018)
“Predatory’ Publishing Up“, Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 1 October 2015