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Open Access: "Predatory" Publishers

Introduction to Open Access Resources and Information


"Predatory" publishers present themselves as legitimate Open Access publishers but use questionable publishing practices such as:

  • using an inadequate or incomplete peer review process
  • focusing mainly on collecting article processing charges rather than quality scholarship
  • masking the true identity of journal staff and the actual fees required for publication.

Beware - if you fall prey to these tactics and publish in one of these spurious outlets, it is almost impossible to retract your article and could come at great legal, reputational, and financial expense to you.

How do you check the authority of these publishers?

Use Think. Check. Submit. It is an easy-to-use tool to help you identify trustworthy publication venues for your research. It provides a simple checklist to help you assess the credentials of a journal or publisher.

Some helpful tips and questions to consider:

  • Look for the publisher's full and verifiable contact information, including address on the journal site.  Be cautious if only a web contact form is provided, or if the office appears to be located in a home, for example.
  • Does the editorial board list recognized experts with full affiliations?  Ask them about their experiences with the journal or publisher.
  • Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees and has clear copyright policies.
  • Be wary of email invitations to submit to journals or become editorial board members.
  • Read some of the journal's published articles and assess their quality.  Contact past authors to ask about their experience.
  • Check that the journal's peer review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct.
  • Is the journal a member of an industry association such as Directory of Open Access Journals, or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, or the Committee on Publication Ethics? is it listed in Ulrich's? (verify the ISSN, as well as the publisher's website and where it is indexed).

Further reading & guidelines

Subject Guide

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