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Avoiding Predatory Publishing

This guide includes best practices and resources to avoid in the academic publishing process.

"Predatory" Publishers

"Predatory" publishers use deceptive practices to lure authors to publish with them. They exploit the open access author-pays business model for their own profit and conduct little or no peer review or editing work.

Always carefully assess an unfamiliar publisher before submitting your work to them. Use some of the checklists and resources listed in this guide to help and ask colleagues for their opinions. Your liaison librarian may also be able to advise you.

Criteria Lists for Assessing Journals

Think, Check, Submit!

Sharing research results with the world is key to the progress of your discipline and career. But with so many publications, how can you be sure you can trust a particular journal? Follow this check list to make sure you choose trusted journals for your research.

White List: Finding a Reputable Open Access Journal

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a highly regarded, quality-controlled list of reputable open access journals. DOAJ has been criticized in the past for letting some questionable journals slip onto the list. In 2014, they undertook a significant overhaul requiring all journals to reapply for inclusion. The new criteria for inclusion are much more rigorous. 

**Please be aware that some disreputable journals claim to be listed in DOAJ but are not. DOAJ maintains this list of journals: Some journals say they are indexed in DOAJ but they are not

Also see: Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) - Legitimate open-access publishers are usually members of this association.

Black list: Beall's List of Predatory Journals & Publishers

Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, coined the term "predatory publishers." He investigated suspected scam publishers/journals and maintained lists of them at his blog: Scholarly Open Access

NOTE: These lists are not being updated.

Caveat: Jeffrey Beall has done a wonderful service for the academic community in raising our awareness of this issue, however, he is a controversial figure. He has been accused of lack of transparency since the majority of titles on his list have no accompanying discussion as to why they were included. It is also unethical to rely solely on just one person's opinions.

If a title you want to publish in is on his list then this should raise red flags, ensure a full perspective it is necessary that you also do your own analysis of potentially illegitimate journals and publishers.

Articles Discussing the Problems with Beall's List:

Ethics in Scholarly Publishing

Scholarly publishing is a highly profitable and very competitive industry. Academia can also be hyper-competitive with researchers under extreme pressure to increase their profile and metrics for promotion and tenure. 

So, in this atmosphere, it is not surprising that even reputable, legitimate publications can often become embroiled in unethical situations. And desperate or unscrupulous authors may try to game the system.

For more info and examples of these kinds of controversies see:

  • Retraction Watch - is a blog that tracks various incidents of this nature: plagiarism, peer-review scandals, falsified data, etc.
  • Committee on Publication Ethics - COPE is a forum for editors and publishers of peer-reviewed journals to discuss all aspects of publication ethics.

A Journal Evaluation Tool

A nice rubric tool to help in evaluating journals. From librarians at Loyola Marymount University.