We have listed some common indicators of predatory publishing below but please note that none of these factors should be taken in isolation but used alongside good judgement.
Poor quality website with bad grammar, typing errors, dead links and advertising from non-academic sources.
Little or no contact information.
The editorial board may list names you do not recognise or list academics with fake credentials. Authors should consider if the names mentioned are recognised experts in the field the publisher is covering. It may also be worth checking the web presence of some members to see if their membership is mentioned elsewhere.
They may charge an excessive publication fee and their fees are not clearly stated on their website.
They may charge a submission fee for handling your manuscript, even if it is not accepted.
Irregular publishing dates, with sometimes months between issues.
Differing number of articles published per issue.
Publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive.
Poor quality articles.
Content of the journal does not align with its scope.
Title of the journal does not align with its origin, e.g., British journal of… with no UK affiliation.
Falsely claiming to be indexed in a legitimate indexing service or that the journal has a recognised impact factor.
Falsely claiming a rigorous peer-review process.
Using similar titles to established well-known publications/conferences.
Website: The journal’s website contains misleading or false information (e.g., indexing, metrics, membership of scholarly publishing organizations), lacks an ISSN or uses one that has already been assigned to another publication, mimics another journal/publisher’s site, or has no past or recent journal content. However, do be aware of cultural differences. What may look sophisticated to someone from a large UK university may be out of reach of a smaller publisher in another country.
Name of journal: The journal name is the same as or easily confused with that of another journal or association.
Peer review process: Peer review, the review process, and model are not mentioned, or manuscript acceptance or a very short peer review time is guaranteed. Submitted manuscripts receive inadequate or no peer review. The process of the individual journal should be clearly highlighted and guidelines for both authors and reviewers should be easily accessible. Beware of the promise of fast peer review periods as this may indicate a less than thorough process.
Ownership and management: Information about the ownership and/or management is missing, unclear, misleading, or false.
Governing body: Information on the editorial board is missing, misleading, false, or inappropriate for the journal; full names and affiliations of editorial board members are missing.
Editorial team/contact information: Full names and affiliations of the journal’s editor/s and full contact information for the editorial office are missing, the editor-in-chief is also the owner/publisher, or the editor-in-chief is also the editor of many other journals, especially in unrelated fields.
Copyright and licensing: Policies and notices of copyright (and publishing license and user license) are missing or unclear. If the publisher claims to operate under an Open Access model then check whether a Creative Commons of other type of open licence is being applied. The publisher should also be upfront about the rights the author will retain after publication. It is the author’s responsibility to check that these don’t conflict with any funder mandates.
Author fees: Mandatory fees for publication are not stated or explained clearly on the journal website, submission process, or the letter of acknowledgment and/or are revealed only in the acceptance letter, as a condition of acceptance.
Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: There is no description on how cases of alleged misconduct are handled.
Publication ethics: There are no policies on publishing ethics (e.g., authorship/contributorship, data sharing and reproducibility, intellectual property, ethical oversight, conflicts of interest, corrections/retractions). See: publicationethics.org.
Publishing schedule: The periodicity of publication is not indicated and/or the publishing schedule appears erratic from the available journal content.
Access: The way(s) in which content is available to readers, and any associated costs, is not stated, and in some cases listed articles are not available at all.
Archiving: There is no electronic backup and preservation of access to journal content (despite such claims).
Revenue sources: Business models, business partnerships/agreements, or revenue sources are not stated; publishing fees or waiver status are linked to editorial decision making.
Advertising: Advertising policy is not given, or advertisements are linked to editorial decision making or are integrated with published content.
Direct marketing: Direct marketing is obtrusive and gives misleading or false information.