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Edward G. Miner Library

Faculty Resources: Predatory Publishing

Information, Tools, and Resources for faculty at URMC

Predatory Publishing, Questionable Peer Review, and Fraudulent Conferences

Open-access is a model for publishing scholarly, peer-reviewed journals on the Internet that relies on sources of funding other than subscription fees. Some publishers and editors have exploited the author-pays model of open-access, publishing for their own profit. Submissions are encouraged through widely distributed e-mails on behalf of a growing number of journals that may accept many or all submissions and subject them to little, if any, peer review or editorial oversight. Bogus conference invitations are distributed in a similar fashion. The results of these less than ethical practices might include loss of faculty member time and money, inappropriate article inclusions in curriculum vitae, and costs to the college or funding source.

Bowman, J. D. (2014). Predatory Publishing, Questionable Peer Review, and Fraudulent Conferences. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78(10), 176.


Predatory Publishing Video

From Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, George Washington University

Think, Check, Submit

Questions to ask

What fees will you be charged? Are the Article Processing Charges (APCs) and if so, what are they?

Can you rescind your submission at any time?

Are there typographical errors or editing mistakes on web pages or within other communications?

Have you received unsolicited e-mails or even SPAM?

Have you heard of the publication name?  Does it sound a lot like another established journal?

If you are unsure if a journal is predatory, please feel free to ask your librarian for assistance. 

Predatory Publishing FAQ

What is predatory publishing?

Predatory publishers are unethical in their publishing practices by not following industry standards, usually aggressive in manuscript solicitation tactics, and deceitful about their business operations and services. "They exist primarily to extract fees from authors" (Sorokowski et al. 2017, 481) and are far less concerned with research and publishing ethics (Beall 2017, 275).

Does this mean that all open access publishing is a scam?

No, there are many reputable open access (OA) journals. While OA is a newer form of scholarly publishing, many OA journals comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards. For more information on OA:

How can I tell whether a journal is legitimate or predatory?

Here is a quick list of red flags to look for:

  • Pay close attention to the journal title. Many predatory publishers will have titles that are similar to respected titles.
  • Are the editors, not known to you personally, assertively reaching out to you seeking you to publish in their journal?
  • Carefully review the journal or publisher’s website. Is it professional? Are there typos? Do they provide adequate information in the “About” section? Compare your review to well-respected journals in your field.
  • Does the journal or publisher provide full contact information, including a physical address, phone numbers and email addresses?
  • Pro-tip: Do a Google search for the address and look at the street view. Does it look like a place where a reputable publisher would operate?
  • Take a look at the published articles. Are they high-quality? Are there numerous articles from only one author?  Who serves on the editorial board? Are they respected in their field? Are you familiar with their work?
  • Is the journal indexed in PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, EMBASE or other databases?
  • What is the journal’s peer review process? Remember, peer review takes time; be wary of promises of quick publication.
  • Are policies regarding author fees easily located on website? Do the author fees seem comparable to other reputable open access journals?

Are there tools to evaluate Open Access Journals?

Yes. Miner Library has a website dedicated to Open Access publishing that includes guidance on evaluating open access journals. For quick reference, here is a list of qualities to look for:

  • Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • Journal's primary audience is researchers/practitioners
  • Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly or academic institution
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal website and clearly explained
  • Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier)
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of articles at the article level (for instance, Creative Commons license)
  • Journal has ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, such as1234-5678)
  • Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association or conforms to their code of conduct
  • Journal is registered at UlrichsWeb, Global Serials Directory
  • Journal is registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Journal is included in subject databases or indexes

What is a predatory conference and how can I avoid them?

In addition to predatory publishers, recently the number of predatory conferences has grown. A predatory conference aggressively solicits participation from researchers to present at their event. To avoid a predatory conference, look for following warnings:

  • Is the conference hosted by a well-known research institute, university, professional organization or government entity?
  • Have your colleagues heard of, presented at or attended this conference?
  • Is it an annual event? Be careful of one-off conferences, predatory conferences are often pitched as a one-time event.
  • What is the scope of the conference? Is it clearly defined? See if there are old programs on their website. Do recognize the names of presenters as experts in their field?
  • Is the call for participation clear about their peer review process?

Is there someone at URMC who can help me?

Yes. You can contact Miner Library through Ask A Librarian to submit a question about publishing.

NIH Statement on Predatory Publishing

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released a statement intended to "protect the credibility of published research" by encouraging authors to publish papers resulting from NIH-funded research in reputable journals.  You can read the full statement here.

What about Beall's List?

Jeffrey Beall, a University of Colorado-Denver librarian maintained an updated list of individual journals and publishers that he viewed as "potentially predatory."  In January 2017, he stopped maintaining his Scholarly Open Access blog.

Retraction Watch article about Beall's List

Inside Higher Ed article about Beall's List

Fee-based Tool