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Predatory Publishing: Red Flags

There are several "red flags" to be cautious about when it comes to finding a journal in which to publish your article. Below are some common signs of predatory publisher behavior.

  • Was the e-mail well written?
  • Were there typos or misspelled words?
  • Was the language awkward or unprofessional?
  • Did the e-mail use flattery to convince you to submit your article or join their editorial board?
    • Example: "your contribution towards the research is absolutely prominent" or "Dear Esteemed Scholar"
  • Did the e-mail come from a generic contact address (gmail, yahoo, etc.)?
  • Is the title trying to make you believe it is a journal or publisher with which you are already familiar?
    • Many predatory publishers create journal titles (and even publisher company names) that are intentionally similar to well respected journals or publishers.
  • A title might suggest that the journal is based in the United States or the United Kingdom, but in reality, the publisher might actually be based in India or China.
  • Is the journal website easy to find?
  • Does the website have an outdated appearance?
  • Are there typos, spelling and/or grammatical errors?
  • Are images distorted or fuzzy? Are images authorized to appear on the website?
  • Does the website include "About" information? If so, is the information provided sufficient?
  • Is the journal sponsored or produced by a well-known, and well-respected organization, association, or academic institution?
  • Does the journal/publisher claim to be a "leading publisher" or use boastful language regarding their reputation? Some predatory publishers make boastful claims about their reputation, even if they are a startup or a new publisher.
  • Does the aim and scope seem appropriate for the journal?
  • Predatory journals often have an extremely broad scope in order to attract a large number of article submissions.
  • Is full contact information including a physical address, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses provided? Be wary of journals that only provide a web contact form.
  • Does the journal list the members of its editorial board on their website?
    • Predatory journals include the names of leading scholars in a field among their editorial boards without their knowledge or consent.
  • Contact journal editors and board members and ask about their experience with the journals. Editorial board members of legitimate journals welcome questions from potential authors.
  • Are these people recognized experts in the field with full credentials?
  • Feel free to contact editors and ask about their experience with the journal.
  • Are author fees clearly explained? How much are author fees, article processing charges, and other associated publication costs?
  • Do the author fees seem comparable to other reputable open access journals?
  • Is it clear when fees are due?
  • What type of metrics does the journal use? Can these be verified?
  • Do other reputable journals use the same metrics? Many predatory publishers use fake or invented metrics to fool you into believing they are a credible journal.
  • Does the journal promote the questionable Index Copernicus Value?
  • What is the journal's peer review process? Is this process clearly explained on the journal's website? Can you verify that this process is actually followed?
  • Does the journal promise a quick peer-review?
    • Be wary of promises of a speedy peer-review process. Proper peer-review is a time consuming process. Promises of a speedy peer-review process in an indication that either no peer-review is taking place, or the peer-review that is happening is of low quality.
  • Many predatory journals claim to have a rigorous peer review process when no peer review actually exists.
  • Are there clear instructions for authors regarding how to submit a manuscript?
  • Is there information about how manuscripts are handled once submitted?
  • Legitimate publishers typically require manuscripts submissions via a journal-specific or third party submission system.
  • A majority of predatory publishers require manuscript submission via e-mail.
  • Are published articles available? Some predatory publishers don't have any "published" articles available on their website.
  • Have numerous articles been published by the same author(s)?
  • Do article titles and abstracts seem appropriate for the journal? Do these articles seem well researched? Are articles based on sound science?
  • Do you recognize articles that you have seen in reputable journals?
    • Predatory publishers sometimes re-publish (plagiarize) papers that have already been published in other journals without providing credit, claiming the publication as their own.
  • Are published articles written by academics and experts?
    • Predatory publishers publish papers that are not written by academics, or that are pseudo-science.
  • Feel free to contact past authors and ask about their experiences with the journal.
  • Have you found documented examples that the journal or publisher has a negative reputation?
  • Does the publisher provide information on how journal material is preserved, such as Portico, LOCKSS, etc.?
  • No retraction policy.
  • Copyright information is lacking.
  • No ISSN.
  • If things just don't seem to be right, trust your instincts and stay away.