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Scholarly Communication @ UH Manoa

Scholarly communication news and events for researchers at UH Manoa

Predatory Journals - an Overview

The academic atmosphere where faculty are expected to "publish or perish," combined with how easy it is to create a website and publish materials, has created a situation ripe for the exploitation of academic authors. Predatory publishers offer faculty a chance to publish, but these publishers are not members of the scholarly community. A predatory publisher is an opportunistic publishing venue that exploits the need to publish but offers little scholarly review or reward for those using their services.

Although the motivations and methods vary, predatory publishers often share some common characteristics:

  • Their primary goal is to make money;
  • They do not care about the quality of the work that is published;
  • They make false claims or promises;
  • They engage in unethical business practices; and
  • They fail to follow accepted standards or best practices of scholarly publishing.

Some of these publishers are predatory on purpose; others simply by mistake.

How to Spot a Predatory Publisher

​It can be difficult to decide if a publisher is predatory. These businesses are successful because they can mimic legitimate publications.

However, there are things you can check to see if a publisher is predatory.

  • Check the journal's physical address
    • Does the journal's address actually exist?
    • Does the country of publication match the "Contact Us" location?
    • Look at the street view of the publisher's address using Google Maps. Does it look like the type of office you would expect a publisher to operate from?
  • Check the journal's website
    • Is the journal website difficult to locate or identify?
    • Is the URL convoluted or does it appear to be fake for other reasons?
    • Does the journal's URL reflect the name of the journal?
    • Does an "About Us" page exist? Does it offer meaningful information?
    • Can you verify the Institutional affiliations of the editors?
    • Is the contact email address journal-affiliated?
    • How professional is the website design?
    • Can you find and access other articles from the journal? are they well-written?
    • Does the journal repeat lead authors in the same issue as if there are few real authors publishing in the journal?
  • Check the journal's connection to broader scholarship
    • Is the journal indexed in reputable resources?
    • Have you or any of your peers used the journal?
    • Are the names of the editors recognizable or known in their field? - Predatory publishers might list academics as board members without their permission and add fake academics to their editorial boards. Do the editors exist? Do they list being on the editorial board on their CV?
    • Does the journal have a Journal Impact Factor from a reputable source?
    • Does the publisher belong to a well-recognized industry initiative such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)? 
    • Does the publisher have a negative reputation, such as documented examples in the Chronicle of Higher Education, listservs, etc.)?
    • Do the articles published in the journal meet academic standards? Are there consistent mistakes or articles well off the journal's stated scope?
  • Check the terms of publication
    • Are fees clearly laid out? a legitimate journal typically lays out how much publication will cost and what this money is being used for in the publication process
    • Are the article publication fees reasonable (i.e., too low or too high)?
    • Do authors only learn about fees after their papers have been accepted?
    • Is rapid publication promised? - accepting articles for publication very quickly might have a compromised peer review process
    • Are meaningful instructions to authors available?
  • Check the description and policies of the journal
    • Is information on the peer review process and copyright absent or unclear on the journal web site?
    • Is the journal's scope statement absent or extremely vague?
  • Check how the journal interacts with you
    • Do they email you frequently? 
    • Do they answer your questions adequately?
    • Does the publisher engage in direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising that is obtrusive?
  • Check the journal against a list of reputable or predatory journals

    • Ulrichʻs Web - a database provided by Hamilton Library that lists characteristics of journals - UH login required 
    • Scopus Journal  Metrics
    • Beall's List. This list has been seen as problematic by some:
      • Olivarez, J., Bales, S., Sare, L., & van Duinkerken, W. (2018). Format Aside: Applying Beall's Criteria to Assess the Predatory Nature of both OA and Non-OA Library and Information Science Journals. College & Research Libraries, 79(1), 52. doi:
      • Swauger, S. (2017). Open access, power, and privilege: A response to “What I learned from predatory publishing”. College & Research Libraries News, 78(11), 603. doi:


Some Scholarly Articles on Predatory Journals

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