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Avoiding Predatory Journal Publications

This guide will help faculty understand and avoid predatory journal publications.

What are "predatory journals"?

In academic publishingpredatory publishing is an exploitative publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not). The idea that they are "predatory" is based on the view that academics are tricked into publishing with them, though some authors may be aware that the journal is poor quality or even fraudulent.[a] [2][3]  (Wikipedia, February 2017)

Watch this quick video: Think, Check, Submit.

Assessing Journals: a helpful Infographic.

Assessing journals infographic

Tips for assessing journal quality.

  • Be wary of emails inviting you to submit to journals you’ve never previously heard of. Check the email address and name attached to the invitation. Determine if it is part of a mass email soliciting submissions. However, note that mass emails are often used by reputable journals or conferences for calls for submissions/proposals.)
  • Check the journal title against a whitelist of reputable publications.  Is the title listed in the DOAJ? Is it a member of COPE, etc.? It is not uncommon for relatively new or small independent journals to not be listed, but any publication more than a couple years old that isn’t a member should raise concerns.
  • Check the publication schedule. It’s not uncommon for truly independent (and legitimate) journals to publish irregularly, but if the journal is part of a larger suite of publications, and has a publishing organization supporting the work, irregular schedules can be an indicator of poor quality.
  • Be wary of offers promising of quick review. This is often an indicator of questionable practices. Any offer of expedited review for a higher fee should be looked at with extreme wariness.
  • Consider the quality of previous issues. Check the writing quality. If you have the disciplinary background, skim some tables of contents to check articles for currency, interest, worth. If you do not, recruit a friend (or a librarian who specializes in the discipline) for help with such assessments.
  • If there is advertising, consider whether it is high-quality, reputable, and relevant to the journal.
  • Identify the editors of the journal. Not listing editors at all is a sign that the publication may be may not be reputable. Similarly, a list of editors that you do not recognize (in a discipline in which you have experience), can be cause for concern. Also note, however, that some fake publishers actually list real people as editors without asking them. If you know any of the editors listed, check with them about their involvement.
  • Consider where the journal is indexed. Will the content be findable via various databases, especially those commonly used in your field?
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