How to Identify a Predatory Publisher

How to Identify a Predatory Publisher

Due to the complexities of the scholarly publishing environment, there is no 100% accurate method for picking out a predatory publisher. However, we can offer some suggestions on how to determine if a journal might be predatory. We recommend that you use a mix of these methods, as any single method is unlikely to provide guidance on its own.

The UOPX Library

Check the UOPX library: Log into the UOPX University Library and search for the journal using the “Find a Specific Publication” resource on the homepage. If the journal appears in the library database (you must log into eCampus first for the link to work), make sure you can access recent journal issues and read articles. Some predatory publishers are represented in our library, and libraries in other Universities, so in addition to this you should keep these things in mind.

  • Is the journal indexed in PubMed Central, Springer Open, SAGE Open, Wiley Open, or Web of Science or PLOS?
  • Is the journal affiliated with a long-standing, well-known publisher (like Wiley, Springer Verlag, Peter Lang, Elsevier, and SAGE)?
  • If invited to submit, was the invitation from an actual journal editor bearing academic credentials that you can look up at the journal’s submission for authors’ page?
  • If the invitation begins, “Dear Esteemed Scholar,” you might have been phished from someplace else where you published or where your name is listed.
  • Does the journal title sound somewhat like another reputable journal (often, predatory journals ‘hijack’ journal names in an effort to pull in unsuspecting researchers)?

Cabell’s Directories

Check Cabell’s (from Library home page select “View All Resources Alphabetically): Cabell’s is recognized as a top journal database across disciplines. This database (you must be logged into eCampus for the link to work) lists all journals that meet their selection criteria. If your journal appears on this list then there is a good chance it is not predatory. Journals listed as emergent do not have an established practice or reputation and should be carefully considered.

Beall’s List

Check Beall’s List of Journals and Publishers: while this is not the final say on whether a journal is predatory or not, it is a good place to gather information. If your journal does not appear on this list you should still check the library and Cabell’s to see if the journal appears there. If it does appear on this list, you should still check the same. NOTE: this resource is only for open access journals.

As of January 2017, the link above has been removed by its publisher. For additional suggestions visit, The Office of Scholarship Support’s Response to Beall’s List Going Offline.

Other Directories

See if the journal is included in other reputable ranking and directories. We suggest checking the Directory of Open Access Journals and Scimago Journal and Country Rank.

Going to the Source

Look at the journal’s website:

  • Do they charge a fee? If so, is it reasonable? Journals that charge multiple fees (e.g., submission and publication) or for publication as well as access should be avoided.
  • Review the editorial board. The editor should be a searchable leader in the discipline of the journal. Is the editorial board composed of researchers from a variety of universities and a manageable size, indicating responsibilities and accountability? If not, the journal might be predatory. Is contact information easily available?
  • Review the journal’s objective. Is there a specific goal of the journal and cohesive focus? If the journal is too broad, international without a rational, or combines many topics it may be predatory.
  • Review the author and submission guidelines. Are there submission requirements, such as priority for conference attendance or membership? Membership only journals are not always predatory but should be avoided due to lack of broader impact. Do they “promise” publication?
  • Is the journal connected to an organization or university invested in an academic discipline? What is the target audience?
  • What is the peer review process? If there is not peer review process it is either predatory or non-academic. How long is the review process? Quality peer reviews take a while, two – six months usually. If you are receiving the reviews back within less than two months then the journal may be predatory.
  • Similarly, review the publisher. If the publisher only publishes templated journals or journals and conferences, this is a red flag. For example, Wiley publishes an extensive number of journals but is clearly invested in academic through demonstrating other resources, careers, news, books, and more.
  • Last, what is the feel of the website? Do they seem to exaggerate their indexing? Do they list misleading information (Cabell’s Publishing vs. Cabell’s International). Do you want your work represented here?

Other Considerations 

If it seems really easy and fast to get your article published in a journal then you might want trust your instincts and take time to question whether that journal is really reputable. Remember, publishing in predatory journals means that you won’t get the recognition you deserve from your peers and community.

If you are wondering about a particular journal, and can’t quite make out whether it is predatory or not, please reach out to a Research Chair or to the OSS staff at: OSS@phoenix.edu

Additional Resources

Comments

James Rice's picture James Rice | October 11, 2016 2:43 pm MST

Challie,

This is an excellent post. I have talked with a number of researchers and faculty who have a great deal of experience with journal publication. You post did a wonderful job of covering all of the major advice I received on the identification of predatory journals and a few more that I had not run across.  I really appreciate this advice and I plan on sharing it with a few folks who are seeking journals right now.

Thank you again!

Jim Rice

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Challie Facemire
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