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Predatory journals

Below are some of the typical practices and characteristics of predatory publishers from Monica Berger’s 2017 ACRL conference paper titled ‘Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Predatory Publishing but Were Afraid to Ask’ (Berger, 2017). These indicators provide an idea of what to look out for in a publisher’s website, including cross-checking its claims and personnel, as well as reading its content.

1.     Spam emails sent to .edu addresses to attract potential authors for journals and conferences:

Written with fawning language, these solicitations use bogus personalization but have no connection to the recipient’s discipline and specialty.

2.     Promises of fast peer review and fast publication:

Peer review is poorly explained and the peer review itself may be faked or low quality.

3.     Lack of focus in subject matter or subject matter extremely broad:

Many predatory journals lack a feasible scope.

4.     Lack of transparency about author fees:

Journal business model is based exclusively on APCs. The journal will not waive fees. Fees may be disclosed after acceptance or terms of fees change after acceptance.

5.     Contradictions and inconsistencies:

Journal scope may not match the content. The journal’s name may not match its location. Note that many publishers claim bogus addresses in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

6.     Editors are not editors:

Academics are listed as editors without that individual’s knowledge or involvement. Journal proprietors are editors. Look for duplicate editorial boards, cases where no editor is identified as well as a lack of academic-affiliated email and/or academic affiliation for editor(s).

7.     Newness and quantity:

Most predatory journals and their publishers are new businesses. They launch many journals at once. A high quantity of articles per issue and frequent issues signals lack of peer review and an over-eagerness to earn revenue.

8.     Copycat names with and without copycat websites:

Some predatory journals have names that sound familiar. Others are hijacked journals that take the exact or very close name, look, web domain, and ISSN of an established journal.

9.     Author-editor nightmares:

There are no opportunities for an author to revise. Horrible editing errors are introduced. Sometimes an article will be published without author consent. The editor will refuse to retract an article or to retract an article without payment.

10.  Location information that is contradictory or missing:

Bad information about the physical location of publisher can be a telling signal. Many predatory publishers falsely claim a base in the United States or England or a business address that is residential. Use Google Earth to investigate.

11.  False and fake bibliometrics:

Imaginatively named journal metrics are common as well as false claims of inclusion in legitimate bibliometric services. Fake ‘impact factors’ are supplied by companies that support predatory publishing.

12.  False and inappropriate claims of indexing and inclusion in databases:

Journals falsely claim inclusion in DOAJ as well as Ulrich’s, Serials Solutions, and Cabell’s. Look for claims of indexing in Sherpa RoMEO or other services that are not indexes as well as bogus indexing services.


This video provides shows you how to identify predatory publishers.

(Source: University of Manitoba Libraries. 2016)

Further readings:

Berger, M. (2017). Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Predatory Publishing but Were Afraid to Ask. In ACRL 2017, Baltimore, Maryland, March 22 – 25, 2017. [Conference paper]

Rele, S., Kennedy, M. & Blas, N. (2017). Journal Evaluation Tool. Loyola Marymount University Librarian Publications & Presentations. 40.