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Evaluating Journals: Predatory Journals

What are Predatory Publishers/Journals?

What is a Predatory Journal?

The terms "predatory publisher" and "counterfeit journal" were explained by Jeffrey Beall (Beall, 2012, 179).  He stated these publishers and journals, "are dishonest and lack transparency. They aim to dupe researchers, especially those inexperienced in scholarly communication. They set up websites that closely resemble those of legitimate online publishers, and publish journals of questionable and downright low quality" (Beall, 2012, 179).  Since his description, the term predatory journal has replaced the term counterfeit journal in popularity.  

Why should I be concerned?

There has been tremendous growth in the number of open access journals in recent years and it is difficult, in many cases, to know whether a journal is predatory.  If you publish in a predatory open access journal, you are not likely to get what you have paid for.

How do I know if a journal is predatory?

First, if you receive an unsolicited email asking you to submit an article for publication, be wary.  The journal is very likely predatory.

According to the article, "Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison," by Shamseer et al., there are 13 main characteristics that predatory journals share:

  1. The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics
  2. The website contains spelling and grammar errors
  3. Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized
  4. The homepage language targets authors
  5. The Index Copernicus Value is promoted on the website
  6. Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking
  7. Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email
  8. Rapid publication is promised
  9. There is no retraction policy
  10. Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent
  11. The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)
  12. Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright
  13. The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., or

For further reading

Check out the following articles for further reading on this topic:

Due diligence in the open-access explosion era: choosing a reputable journal for publication

Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals

Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison

‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics

Predatory publishers are corrupting open access



Beall, J. (2012). Predatory publishers are corrupting open access: journals that exploit the author-pays model damage scholarly publishing and promote unethical behaviour by scientists, argues Jeffrey Beall. Nature489(7415), 179-180.

Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., ... & Shea, B. J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC medicine15(1), 28.

For Further Help

For further help and to get more information about specific journals, check out the following database:

You may also want to check out the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), and Journal/Author Name Estimator (Jane)

Also check out the Think, Check, Submit website!