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Where to publish: Avoiding predatory or deceptive publishers

Predatory or deceptive publishers

Characteristics of predatory journals & publishers:

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

 Predatory or deceptive publishers are known to:

  • Create counterfeit websites that impersonate the website of a legitimate scholarly journal, with the aim of soliciting manuscript submissions and publication charges. The legitimate journal being counterfeited may publish only in print, not have an online portal, or use another online web domain for its online journal issues.
  • 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). The Australian Research Council and ERA now recognize Quartile journal ranks, and discourage the use of Journal Impact Factors.
  • Have websites with spelling or grammatical errors.
  • 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.
  • Release an overwhelmingly large suite of new journals all at one time.
  • Publish content of the journal which varies from the title and stated scope.
  • Use false addresses, or indicate no address or contact details.
  • Website or email domains do not match the purported address of the publisher. 
  • Use generic email accounts (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc.) for Chief Editors or other editors. Ideally, email addresses should indicate the academics' institution.
  • 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.
  • Provide limited editorial support.
  • Fail to meet established standards with respect to peer review.
  • Falsely list editor(s).
  • 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.

Warning!

It is important to avoid publishing with publishers who display unethical practices. These Publishers often claim that your work will be peer reviewed. Sometimes their web pages also display fictitious impact factors.

These publishers' motivation is to profit from the fee you pay for publication. 

The publisher could potentially own the article's copyright under the laws of the country in which the publisher resides.

You can damage your reputation when publishing with predatory publishers. Your work is unlikely to be indexed or accessible in major databases.

Sample template

This template might be used to send to the predatory journal publisher if you realise that your manuscript has mistakenly been submitted to a predatory publisher. There is no guarantee that the withdrawal of the manuscript will be successful.   

A checklist

Before submitting to any journal, you should check:

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
    • Have you read any articles in this journal before?
    • Can you find the journal in PRIMO?
    • Is the name of the journal the same or similar to another journal?
  • Check Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory:
    • To see which databases index or have full-text of the journal. 
    • The journal's ISSN.
  • What can you find out about the journal and the publisher?
    • Can you easily contact them by email, telephone and post?
    • Check that the "impact factors" quoted on the website are correct. SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) will give you journal ranking and other metrics.
    • Who are the editor(s)? Check the editor(s) online academic CV or profile.
    • Is it on The Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) List of Eligible Journals?
  • What type of peer-review processes are used by the journal? 
    • Are the peer-reviewers:
      • independent/external?
      • subject experts in your area or done by an expert editorial board?
    • Warning: Be careful with journals that guarantee acceptance or offer a very short peer review time.
  • What can you find out about fees?
    • What are they for? When will they be charged? How much?
  • Read the Author Guidelines carefully.
    • What does it say about open access, license policy and copyright?
  • Is the publisher a member of:
  • Is it listed on:

More information is available from ‘Think, Check, Submit’

Think. Check. Submit.

Further Reading:

Dadkhah, M., Maliszewski, T., & Teixeira da Silva, J. A. (2016). Hijacked journals, hijacked web-sites, journal phishing, misleading metrics, and predatory publishing: actual and potential threats to academic integrity and publishing ethics. Forensic Sci Med Pathol, 12(3), 353-362. doi:10.1007/s12024-016-9785-x

Mercier, E., Tardif, P.-A., Moore, L., Le Sage, N., & Cameron, P. A. (2017). Invitations received from potential predatory publishers and fraudulent conferences: a 12-month early-career researcher experience. Postgraduate Medical Journal. doi:10.1136/postgradmedj-2017-135097

Zakout, Y.MA. Predatory Publishers/Journals in Medical Sciences: How to Avoid, Stop, and What to Do after Being Scammed by Them?. J Gastrointest Canc 51, 782–787 (2020). https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1007/s12029-020-00418-8