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Predatory Publishing FAQs

​For more information about predatory publishers and open access journals, contact Nadine (nfanders@umich.edu) or see the library's in-depth Avoiding Predatory Journal Publications guide.

What is predatory publishing and why should I care?

Predatory Publishing is a thriving black market economy of publishing scams that exploit the academic need to publish or perish. They are designed to look like genuine scholarly publishers but unlike them offer little reward for their "services." Predatory publishers share common characteristics:

  • Their primary goal is to make money
  • They do not care about the quality of work published
  • They make false claims or promises
  • They engage in unethical business practices
  • They fail to follow accepted standards and best practices of scholarly publishing

Why Should I Care?

Publishing your research in predatory journals can negatively impact your research brand and hurt your promotion and tenure process:

  • Your research will go through a sub-par peer-review and editing process with very little, if any, time and resources dedicated to improving your work
  • Your work could disappear, since predatory publishers are opportunists who don't care about their commitments to preserving your work
  • Your work will be hard to find, since predatory journals are seldom included in well-known research databases (though they are covered in Google Scholar, so watch out there)

What are some quick tips I can use to avoid predatory publishers?

Watch Think.Check.Submit, the two-minute video below with a simple checklist you can use to assess the credentials of a journal or publisher:

What questions should I ask when I evaluate publishers?

The best way to avoid predatory publishers is to evaluate any publisher you're considering. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
    • Have you read articles from this journal before?
    • Have any of your colleagues published in the journal before?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the publisher?
    • Are they associated with a professional society or association?
    • Is the publisher name clearly displayed no the journal website?
    • Can you contact the publisher by email, phone, and mail?
  • Do you recognize the Editorial Board?
    • Have you heard of the editorial board members?
    • Do the editorial board members mention the journal on their own websites?
  • Is the journal clear about its peer review process and editorial oversight standards? 
    • Predatory journals tend to offer little to no peer review or editorial oversight
  • Is the journal indexed in reputable research databases, such as the databases in UM-Dearborn Library?
    • Predatory journals are usually not indexed in reputable research databases
  • Does the journal clearly outline its publishing process?
  • Is it clear what fees will be charged? 
    • Does the publisher's website explain what these fees are and when they will be charged?
    • Does the publisher charge excessive fees for publication?
  • Did the publisher send you an unsolicited email that makes no sense to you why you got it?
    • Is the journal or book related to your field of expertise?
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