Characteristics of Predatory Publishers
In order to avoid predatory publishers, you have to be able to identify them. If you are not familiar with a journal or it’s publisher, evaluate it carefully.
Common characteristics of predatory publishers:
- Website design: amateurish or outdated webpage
- Journal metrics: a predatory journal will often list fake journal metrics like “impact index”
- Real journal metrics include: h-index, Journal Impact Factor
- Read more about journal-level metrics here: https://guides.library.ualberta.ca/research-impact/journal-level-metrics
- Contact information: contact information for the journal is hard to find or there is no contact email
- Editorial board: there is little information about the editorial board
- Manuscript publication: guaranteed publication or an unrealistically short publication time is promised
- Journal may not be peer reviewed, or it my advertise a shortened peer review
- Journal focus: journal subject areas seem random and unrelated, or very broad
- Poor writing: errors or poor writing is present on the webpage or in articles, some articles may be plagiarized
- Submission guidelines: guidelines are vague and short, may not mention peer review
- Solicitation: unsolicited emails asking for submissions, these emails often contain misleading information and may be poorly targeted to you
Note: if a journal has one of these characteristics, it is not necessarily predatory, but the more characteristics it has the more likely it is to be predatory.
How to check if a journal is predatory:
- Is the journal listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
- This directory is a curated list of legitimate Open Access journals, however not all legitimate Open Access journals are listed here
- Check Beall’s List
- Beall’s List is a now-discontinued list of potential predatory publishers
- Ask a professor in your research area
- Your professor will know the best places to submit and the ones to avoid
- Ask your librarian for help
- Google it!
- Search the journal name and the word “predatory,” take a look at the information that comes up
Learn more about identifying predatory publishers:
Read the article The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics for more characteristics of predatory publishers: https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11019-016-9740-3
Watch this video from the University of Manitoba for a good overview on identifying predatory publishers:
If you are unsure about the quality of a journal, it is best to err on the side of caution. If you find evidence a journal may be predatory, but you are still unsure, be safe and choose another journal.
Read more about evaluating journals in the chapter Evaluating a Journal.