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Beware of predatory journals and rogue publishers

The strong growth of open access has brought with it a large number of rogue publishers and so called predatory journals. Before submitting a manuscript to an open access journal it is therefore vital to verify that you are dealing with a genuine academic publisher of adequate quality.

What is a predatory journal?

The term "predatory journal" refers to journals that, against payment, offer authors to publish with open access without performing the services that are expected from a genuine journal or publisher. The peer-review process may be inadequate or missing altogether, and there is no guarantee that the journal will archive and preserve long-term access to the published articles.

Predatory journals range from amateurish websites hosting a single journal to larger platforms that may contain hundreds of journals and appear very professional.

According to the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, publishing in a predatory journal is a violation to research integrity.

The University Library offer support and guidance in assessing journal quality and credibility. The checklist below is a good start. As a complement, useful checklists are available from the Think. Check. Submit. initiative.

Please contact This is an email address if you have any questions, or need further assistance in determining whether a journal is genuine or not.

Open Access Quality Indicators

Check if the journal can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals or in Web of Science. If it is indexed in any of these sources, it is most likely a genuine academic journal.

It is preferable that a pure open access publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). Publisher members of OASPA undergo a strict initial review procedure and must then continue to exemplify high standards to remain part of the association.

Note that PubMed is not a recommended resource for assessing journals in this regard. Studies have shown that articles from dubious journals can be included there.

Warning signs

Check if the journal is listed in Cabell's Predatory Reports, a service that helps researchers identify questionable journals. For each journal in the database, the latest review date is shown, as well as identified violations to good publishing practice.

Further, you are advised to proceed with caution if:

  • The journal is not indexed in the DOAJ or in Web of Science
  • The publisher or journal is not a member of OASPA.

Some common characteristics of predatory journals

Below are some common characteristics of predatory journals. The list is however far from exhaustive.

1. False information regarding inclusion in well-known scholarly resources

The journal may falsely claim to be indexed in DOAJ, Web of Science, or some other respected resource. Beware of sentences that indexing in some well-known index or database is ”in process”, ”coming soon” etc. Always verify that any information provided by the journal in terms on indexing services, logotypes of indexes or databases etc. are correct. Check the source.

2. Use of deception to appear genuine

Predatory journals often attempt to appear genuine by referring to sources that do not have a bearing on scholarly quality. Common examples include the ISSN-registry, ORCID, Google Scholar or PubMed Central. None of these sources, however, have any impact on quality, publishing ethics or integrity.

The journal or publisher will often have information on publishing ethics and the benefits of open access to the scholarly community and to society etc. A genuine open access journal should be able to support similar statements through inclusion in some respected index, such as DOAJ or OASPA.

3. Misleading or fake metrics

Real journal impact factors can be made up. Check the source. Reference can be made to any number of fake metrics, including but not limited to the Global Impact Factor, GISI Impact Factor, CiteFactor, Universal Impact Factor or Index Copernicus. 

4. Promises of fast peer-review

You may see promises of an unusually fast peer-review process or offers of fast peer-review at an extra charge. (Although this option may also be offered by a genuine journal)

5. Lack of transparency

The article processing charge is not immediately visible on the website, or not known prior to submitting the manuscript.

6. Fake editorial boards

Be aware that the editorial board may be fake. The journal may use fake names or real names without permission. Can the information provided be verified somehow? Are the board members’ home university and email addresses visible? Are they correct?

In some cases there may be no information at all regarding the editorial board.

7. Title imitation

Journal titles are often similar to the titles of established journals, and the look of well-known publishers’ or journals’ websites may be imitated.

8. Using aggressive email solicitations of authors

Predatory journals and publishers will frequently send unsolicited emails requesting you to submit an article or invite you to be on the editorial board. A number of common features in emails from predatory publishers (with examples) has been collected by Rutgers University. Do not respond to predatory publishers’ emails.

Googling the journal or publisher, and adding ”predatory” to your search, will often provide valuable information on other researchers’ views and experiences from dealing with the publisher.