Skip to Main Content

Open Access

Predatory publishers engage in unfair and deceptive practices with regards to the publication of online academic journals and organisation of scientific conferences. They:

  • Falsely claim rigorous peer review.
  • Claim individuals as editors when those individuals never agreed to become editors.
  • Send solicitations to potential authors on behalf of other academics, without permission from those academics.
  • Give their journals a nearly identical name as another respected journal.
  • Fail to disclose publication fees until after authors submit articles, and demand payment to withdraw the article.
  • Misrepresent the Impact Factor (IF) of their journals.
  • Falsely claim that their journals are included in academic indexes such as the ISI.
  • Falsely claim that respected individuals will participate in conferences to increase attendance.

Anderson, R. (2017). Federal Trade Commission and National Institutes of Health take action against predatory publishing practices. Available from: [Accessed: 2 January 2018].

How to identify a predatory journal or publisher

There are many measures of quality to assist you in determining the legitimacy of a publisher or journal. Resources like DOAJ, SHERPA/RoMEO and recently ThinkCheckSubmit are all credible initiatives to use alongside certain indicators to evaluate publications:

  • Is the journal's mission and scope clearly defined?
  • Are there spelling and grammar errors on the website, in titles and abstracts?
  • Is there an editorial team you can contact? Or are the email addresses non-professional and non-journal/publisher affiliated?
  • Is there a submission fee instead of a publication fee?
  • Does the journal charge excessive fees for publication? It should be clear what fees are paid for. Predatory publishers hide fees until after you submit your manuscript.
  • Does the publication claim to have an impact factor when there is none?
  • Are there clear production, peer-review and publication processes?

These are some of the questions to ask when you decide on where to publish. For more assistance, you can ask your librarian. You can also visit specialist in copyright and scholarly communications, Denise Nicholson's tips on Scholarly Horizons.

Here is a handy graphic with tips on how to identify predatory journals:

A clip of Prof Johan Mouton speaking on predatory journals, shown at the 4th Annual UFS Research Week, 28 July 2017

How to spot a predatory publisher by the Office of Scholarly Communications at Cambridge University.

Report a problem