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Predatory Publishing

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 safely accept an invitation.

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. 

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.

A to Z

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

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