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Predatory Publishing: Action! Checklists

This guide aims to assist with Open Access publishing by helping to identify potential non-scholarly, for profit only publishing practices, also known as predatory publishing.


There are many methods to successfully evaluate the quality of a journal or publisher: pick one or two before making a decision to accept an invitation.


  • Primary goal: to make money
  • Reputation: questionable
  • Emails: flattering, persuasive, and repetitive
  • Databases: none of them included the title
  • Author is targeted by website, not the reader
  • Title: suggests a vague or broad scope
  • Open Access, but publisher retains copyright
  • Revision: not required, instant publication guaranteed
  • Yes, it’s predatory!             

From the World Association of Medical Editors

A document from WAME providing guidance to identify predatory publishers.WAMA predatory yes/no chart

12 Questions to Assess a Journal/Publisher

Aimed at the busy author, the following survey uses only 12 questions, based on the well-established criteria for determining predatory open-access publishers by Jeffrey Beall and our own experience at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Library since 2008. 

YES/NO Checklist from Think.Check.Submit.

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
    – Have you read any articles in the journal before?
    – Is it easy to discover the latest papers in the journal?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the publisher?
    – Is the publisher name clearly displayed on the journal website?
    – Can you contact the publisher by telephone, email, and post?
  • Is the journal clear about the type of peer review it uses?
  • Are articles indexed in services that you use?
  • Is it clear what fees will be charged?
    – Does the journal site explain what these fees are for and when they will be charged?
  • Do you recognise the editorial board?
  • – Have you heard of the editorial board members?
    – Do the editorial board mention the journal on their own websites?
  • Adapted from  Think.Check.Submit

Got Invited to Submit your Paper?

You have received an email inviting you to

  • publish your paper for a small fee OR
  • serve on their editorial board OR
  • edit a special issue OR
  • present as keynote speaker at a conference

STEP 1 Be alert

  • Is it a legitimate request? - We are all flattered to be listed among the top experts of our field. 
  • Do they want my work? My credentials? Name? Money? All of the above? 
  • Are there any typos? Grammatical errors? Awkward sentences? 

STEP 2 Read between the lines

  • Are they offering special treatment in one way or another? - Watch out for promises of rapid peer review or publication.
  • Does it sound like "pyramid" publishing? Do they expect you to drag your colleagues into it, too? 
  • Does it sound too good to be true?

STEP 3 Check out the sender

  • Is there full contact info: email, phone, address? Are they in the same physical location (state, continent)?
  • Is there a street address? Look it up on Google Maps! Is it an empty lot in the middle of nowhere?
  • Do they direct you to their website? Look it up! Watch out for poor design and missing content.

STEP 4 Consider it predatory until proven otherwise

  • Consult Beall's List, even though it is not current, many publishers have been in the business for a while.
  • Use Think. Check. Submit. to check for authority.
  • Ask around. Ask your colleagues - predatory publishers tend to send the same email to authors (or anyone related to your research, e. g., listed on your lab's website) at the same time.
  • Ask a librarian. If there is a subject specialist, ask that librarian, or just ask any librarian.


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