Predatory or deceptive publishers

Many journal publishers, subscription based and open access, impose article processing charges (APC). This author-pays model may be used to fund peer reviewed open access journals, or be presented as an option to authors who wish to make their article open access in an established subscription based journal. The latter option has become more common, since some funding bodies, such as the ARC and NHMRC have adopted policies requiring research outputs to be freely accessible / open access, and may not even be necessary given that these policies only require that publications are ‘deposited into an open access institutional repository [see What is Open Access?] and/or made available in another open access format within a twelve month period from the date of publication’.

Some ‘predatory or deceptive publishers’ have taken the development of the open access author-pays academic publishing model, as an opportunity to make money. These predatory or deceptive publishers are known to:

  • make dubious claims about the quality or credentials of a journal, e.g. citing a pseudo ‘journal impact factor’ purchased from companies such as the Global Institute for Scientific Information (GISI) which could easily be mistaken for a ‘journal impact factor (JIF)’ published by Thomson Reuters (previously ISI) in the Journal Citation Reports database
  • provide limited editorial support
  • fail to meet established standards with respect to peer review
  • charge non-advertised publication fees after accepting an article for publication
  • falsely claim that the publication is listed or indexed by reputable services, e.g. DOAJ, Scopus, Web of Science
  • adopt a journal name that is easily mistaken for that of another established title, or incorrectly identified with an established institution or professional association
  • publish a journal that includes material from multiple disciplines not normally associated together, e.g. International Journal on Recent Trends in Life Science and Mathematics
  • solicit papers from potential authors directly via email. Some legitimate academic publishers might contact authors directly about a relevant special issue of a journal, or announce a new journal, but it is not standard practice

Authors also need to be wary of counterfeit websites that impersonate the website of a legitimate scholarly journal, with the aim of soliciting manuscript submissions and publication charges. The legitimate versions of the journals may either only be published in print and not have an online portal, or be published online from a different domain (web address).

A news feature published in the journal Nature - Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing - provides a ‘checklist to identify reputable publishers’ (Butler, 2013, p.435).

Butler, D. (2013). Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing. Nature, 495(7442), 433-435. Retrieved from:

Useful tools:

These tools aren’t perfect. For example, Ulrichsweb includes some journals that publish peer reviewed + non-peer reviewed content; the DOAJ might not include all quality open access journals, and recently de-listed 900+ journals that did not meet its published Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing

The Library's Faculty Liaison staff can often provide advice about publishers to avoid, and assist authors identify alternative journals.