Characteristics of dodgy journals: what to look out for?

How to avoid the risk of submitting your research article to a journal of questionable repute? How to differentiate predatory journals from bona fide ones?

Shamseer et al. (2017) analysed numerous predatory journals, open access journals and subscription-based journals and have identified 13 evidence-based characteristics of questionable journals. Some of them include spelling and grammatical errors on journal websites, promises of rapid publication, manuscripts are submitted via email, boast of a bogus impact factor, contact email address is non-professional, etc.

In addition, we recommend that researchers use the “think, check, submit” checklist to help them select where to publish their works. It is a straightforward three-step process which is supported by organisations such as INASP, STM, OASPA and publishers such as Springer Nature and BioMed Central.

If you have questions regarding the legitimacy or reputation of a journal or publisher, please contact

Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., Clark, J., Galipeau, J., Roberts, J., Shea, B. J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine. DOI 10.1186/s12916-017-0785-9

Open Access Journals – take note of predatory OA publishers

As more researchers embrace the idea and attractions of publishing their papers in open access (OA) journals, they are faced with a wide selection of journals to choose from.

Among these OA journals, there are titles that are managed by reputable publishers and others that were recently established and run by unfamiliar publishing houses. Despite the pressure to publish, scholars still need to be highly selective and submit their manuscripts to OA journals of good standing.

There isn’t a prescriptive list of reputable OA journals but there is a list of OA publishers with questionable practices.

Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, has been closely watching the OA publishing scene and have identified a number of dubious or questionable OA publishers. He refers to them as predatory publishers and provided a list of publishers on hisScholarly Open Access blog. In addition, he provided some>criteria for determining predatory OA publishers.
[Update: Since mid Jan 2017, details about questionable publishers are no longer available on Beall’s Scholarly Open Access blog. Catherine Voutier, a clinical librarian at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, has made available the latest edition of Beall’s list, before its disappearance, in her blog post,
Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers and these are also available from]
We strongly recommend that scholars read the reviews, assessments and descriptions provided in his blog, and decide whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards.