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Research support

Helping you to undertake and publish your research, and maximise its impact.

What should I do if I am approached?

If you are approached by an unknown publisher to contribute to a journal:

  • Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including an address, on the journal site. 
  • Check that the journal's editorial board lists recognised experts with full affiliations. Verify this by checking their academic profiles via their institutional webpage or LinkedIn. If possible, contact them to ask.
  • Read some of the journal's published articles and assess their quality. Who are the authors and who are they affiliated with? Have they been cited? Is the content relevant to the scope of the journal? Journals without ISSNs or articles without DOIs may be cause for concern.
  • Are articles from the journal indexed in well-known databases such as Web of Science or Scopus? Appearing in typical indexes and databases for their associated discipline is a good sign for a publisher. However, do remember that there may be perfectly valid reasons why a particular journal is not indexed, such as being very niche or new. Authors could also try searching for other titles from the same publisher to overcome this problem.
  • Check that a journal's peer review process is evident and compare the author submission guidelines and time scales to other well-known journals. Confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct. Check out journal impact factors in Journal Citation Reports
  • Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees to avoid that unexpected invoice!
  • Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals  or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association. Is the journal/publisher a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?
  • Check to see when the journal was established through Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory and verify its claims to be indexed within specific databases and abstracting services.
  • Check the Think Check Submit website, a cross-sector initiative that aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications.

We have focused here on journals, but predatory approaches are also made to entice researchers to attend conferences or share theses. Always be vigilant. Trust your own judgement! If something doesn’t feel right with the publisher, further investigation is needed. 

Finally, Cranfield authors are sometimes contacted by genuine publishers asking if they would like to contribute to a special edition. If you are contacted directly by a well-known reputable publisher, and want to contribute an article, we suggest you ask them to waive any APC charge associated with making the article publicly accessible. If good publishers really want your work, they should be happy to do this.