You have likely heard of "predatory publishers". You may know the story of a friend or a colleague who submitted to a journal, only to have subsequent doubts about the quality of the publication. They may have struggled to retract their submission. Unfortunately, deceptive publishing practices are all-too-common. The information on this page will help you identify deceptive publishing practices and avoid "predatory" or deceptive journals, publishers, and conferences.
What do we mean when we say "predatory publishers"?
According to a consensus statement published in 2019 in Nature: “Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”
Basically, predatory journals and publishers engage in deceptive publishing practices. These practices include:
- Misleading pricing
- The use of fake impact factors
- False claims of the membership of their editorial board
- Lack of transparency or false claims regarding the rigor of the peer review process
Aggressive, indiscriminate solicitation
Learn more about using the Think.Check.Submit tool to evaluate solicitation emails and journal websites by completing our interactive tutorial, Identifying Deceptive Journals. (Estimated time to complete: 15-20 minutes).
Are you an instructor? Would you like to include material on deceptive publishing practices in your course? You can add our Canvas module, "Predatory Publishing" and Deceptive Publishing Practices, to your course. The module is accessible from the Canvas Commons. (Estimated time to complete: 40-50 minutes, which includes the interactive tutorial).
How can I avoid deceptive journals?
The most effective way to avoid publishing in journals with deceptive publishing practices is to learn to identify features common to deceptive publishers. This involves critically examining solicitation emails and journal websites.
Luckily, tools have been developed to aid you in this process.
The video above summarizes the checklist from the Think.Check.Submit resource.
What about Beall's List?
If you are familiar with the term "predatory publisher," you may have also heard of Beall's List, a list of purported predatory publishers.
The term "predatory publisher" was first coined in 2011 by librarian Jeffrey Beall. Beall identified a growing phenomenon: publishers and journals using deceptive publishing practices for material gain. These publishers and journals generally engaged in aggressive solicitation and made false claims about their editorial processes, while charging authors fees for publication. While Beall correctly diagnosed the problem, his solution (Beall's List) proved problematic for its biases against the open access movement and publishers from the Global South, as well as its lack of reproducibility.
It is for these reasons that we recommend against using Beall's List. There are more effective ways to avoid predatory journals and publishers. See the section above, "How can I avoid deceptive journals?"
Where can I find more information about journals?
UlrichsWeb — An authoritative source of bibliographic and publisher information on academic and scholarly journals, including peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more from around the world.
Journal Citation Reports (JCR) — Use this resource to locate citation data (metrics) for a particular journal title.
Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) — A membership organization for open access publishers. Members must adhere to a code of conduct, many points of which are direct attempts to combat against deceptive publishers.