“Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit.  That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee.  They are characterized by various levels of deception and lack of transparency in their operations.” - Jeffrey Beall, On Predatory Publishers, Chronicle of Higher Education.

With the explosion of online publishing and the increasing use of the author pay business model, predatory publishers are becoming more common.  When you are evaluating a journal to determine if you article is a good fit for the publication, don’t forget to spend some time evaluating the publisher.  Similarly, if you are invited to submit to a journal or to become an editorial board member, be sure to critically evaluate the publisher’s legitimacy.

How to Avoid Predatory Publishers

  • Contact the Library for a second (or first) opinion on the publisher or journal.  We’re happy to help faculty identify reliable, quality scholarly publishing venues
  • Look for an ISSN.  For reputable journals, this is a basic requirement.
  • Check if the journal is indexed in a reputable database.
  • Verify that the journal displays its author fee policy on the website.  Informing you of fees only after your manuscript has been accepted is a sign of a predatory publisher
  • Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information on the website.  Be wary of those that only provide web contact forms.
  • Be wary of email invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.
  • Check that a journal’s peer review process is clearly identified and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct
  • If something looks fishy, proceed with caution.  Use common sense as you would with online shopping.

Further reading