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Predatory Publishing: Getting Started: Home

What is "Predatory Publishing"

What are “predatory journals”? 

  • The term “predatory journals" was first coined by librarian Jeffrey Beall in 2012 to describe what he called “counterfeit journals". [1]
  • Predatory journals or publishers are now commonly referred as those that “actively solicit manuscripts and charge publication fees without providing robust peer review and editorial services.”[2]

“There is no universally agreed definition of a predatory journal or publisher. However, organizations like the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) define global publication ethics standards — predatory journals do not meet those standards.” -- Karen Holland, Prof. Peter Brimblecombe, Dr. Wim Meester and Susanne Steiginga, 
The importance of high-quality content: curation and reevaluation in Scopus

Why is it important to identify them?

  • Devise strategies to deal with increased calls for papers/invitations to serve on editorial boards from unfamiliar sources and journals
  • Avoid potential loss of academic reputation/opportunities by being associated with poor-quality journals
  • Uphold high standards in publishing; poor-quality publications tarnish the credibility of academic literature

[1] Beall (2012). Nature, 489(7415), 179

[2] Shamseer et al. (2017). BMC Medicine, 15(1), 28

Should I Publish in This Journal?

This guide was created to help answer the following questions, upon receiving an invitation from a publisher:

  • Should I publish my article in a particular journal?
  • Should I pay article processing charges to publish in an Open Access journal?
  • Should I edit a special issue for a particular journal?
  • Should I accept the invitation to serve on the editorial board of a particular journal?
  • Should I accept the invitation to be a keynote speaker at a particular conference?

Predatory Publishers on the Rise

Jeffrey Beall's numbers of predatory publishers from 2011 to 2016 show a dramatic increase.


Ayeni, P. O., & Adetoro, N. (2017). Growth of predatory open access journals: implication for quality assurance in library and information science research. Library Hi Tech News, 34(1), 17–22.

On Good Publishing Practices

Download Infographics: Phony vs. Legit

(Source: Medical Library Association, 2018)

Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (Infographics from the University of West Indies)

Warning Signs / Red Flags

Flattering email to invite you to submit an article or serve on the editorial board of a "scholarly" journal

  • poor language with typos and awkward style 
  • vocabulary below industry standard with multisyllabic words
  • offer sounds too good to be true

Journal title 

  • sounds similar to a reputable publication (words are in different order or mixed from several other titles)
  • contains prestigious-sounding but potentially vague terms such as "advanced", "global","international", "universal", "world", "open",  (although these words are also used by reputable journals)
  • might be hijacked from a legitimate academic journal: a bogus website offers rapid publication for a fee 

Website with information on the journal, editorial board, and publisher

  • site looks amateurish and unprofessional (layout, typos, poor quality pictures, flashy ads, dead links, abundance of well known logos) 
  • multiple pages "under construction", including current and past issues, editorial board
  • missing, scarce, or contradictory information on "About Us" page (claiming a US address - check with Google Maps)
  • contact information is missing, incomplete, or leads to unavailable links
  • unclear or falsely claimed affiliation to scholarly associations or reputable organizations
  • same publisher publishes multiple journals with a broad scope and from different disciplines
  • editors and editorial board members are from all over the world and have no academic credentials (or are unaware that they are listed!)

Metrics and indexing

  • no ISSN, no DOI
  • invented or fake metrics (sounding similar to established metrics used by reputable journals)
  • Impact Factor can't be verified in Journal Citation Reports
  • falsely claimed to be indexed, e.g., in DOAJ
  • not listed in reputable sources such as Ulrich's Periodical Directory

Article processing and peer review

  • lack of clear instructions to authors
  • lack of transparency or policies about fees related to publishing 
  • article processing fees look below that of reputable open access journals 
  • peer review process is not clearly explained
  • peer review seems to be extremely fast (i.e., days) -  may be non-existent
  • articles are to be submitted via email (some predatory publishers use legitimate editorial manager systems - it doesn't make them legitimate)

Negative reputation

  • journal and/or publisher is already listed on Beall's list
  • listed on Cabell's Blacklist

What Are Predatory Publishers?

(Source: University of Manitoba Libraries, 2021)

Common Features in Predatory Invitations

  • Awkward language
  • Copycat syndrome
  • False information
  • Flattering
  • Language is boastful, editorialized
  • Missing standards: ISSN, DOI, IF
  • New business
  • Overly polite, but clumsy
  • Persuasive
  • Promises
  • Urgency

See document below for more, including examples.

Metrics, Conferences, Books


Rutgers University Library. (2021). Predatory Publishing: Getting Start(l)ed?.