Skip to Main Content

Copyright Information Center

What Are Predatory Journals

There is not a standard definition of predatory journals. However, at their root they are designed to take advantage of the open access publishing model, which often requires authors to pay article processing charges in order to have their works published open access. They often quickly accept articles without any peer review or quality control, collect the article processing charge, and then post the journal article to their website. There is a range of minor to severe behaviors that can qualify a journal as being predatory. As such, determining if a journal is predatory or not is a process and can involve a number of subjective considerations. There are a number of tools and lists of characteristics that can assist in determining if a journal is predatory or not. 

Evaluation Tools

Characteristics of Predatory Journals

  • E-mailed invitations to submit an article
    • Was the email well written and free of typos and other unprofessional lanuage?
    • Did the email come from a non-publisher based email address such as gmail or yahoo?
  • Journal's name is suspiciously similar to a prominent journal in the field
  • Misleading geographic information in the title
    • Is the publisher actually based where the journal title indicates it is?
  • Website appearance
    • Is it easy to locate the journal online?
    • Does the website contain any spelling or grammatical errors?
    • Are images fuzzy or clearly illegally copied from another site?
    • Does the site contain boastful language such as claims to be a "leading publisher"?
  • Broad aim and scope
    • Does the aim and scope seem appropriate for the journal or is it designed to attract a large number of article submissions?
  • Insufficient contact information
    • Are there physical addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses available? Contact only available via a web form may be a sign of a predatory journal.
  • Lack of editors or an editorial board
    • Does the journal list the members of its editorial board on its website?
  • Editors with no or false academic credentials
    • Are people recognized experts in the field with full credentials?
  • Unclear author fee structures
    • Are author fees clearly explained?
    • Are the author fees comparable with other reputable open access journals?
    • Is it clear when fees are due?
  • Bogus impact factors
  • Invented metrics
    • What types of metrics does the journal use and can they be verified?
    • Do other reputable journals use the same metrics?
    • Does the journal promote the questionable Index Copernicus Value?
  • False index claims
    • Where is the journal indexed? 
  • Peer review process
    • What is the journal's peer review process? Can you verify if this process is actually followed?
    • Does the journal promise a quick peer review?
  • Instructions for authors information is unavailable
    • Are there clear instructions on how to submit a manuscript?
    • Is there information about how manuscripts are handled after submission?
  • Manuscripts submitted via email
    • Legitimate publishers typically require manuscripts be submitted via a journal-specific or third party submission system
  • Evaluate published articles
    • Are there published articles available to review?
    • Are many of the published articles by the same author(s)?
    • Are the articles based on sound science?
    • Are the published articles written by academics and experts?
  • Publisher has a negative reputation
    • Are there documented examples that the journal or publisher has a negative reputation?
  • Digital preservation information is lacking or inadequate
    • Does the publisher provide information on how journal material is preserved such as Portico or LOCKSS?
  • Other missing information
    • There is no retraction policy
    • Copyright information is missing or lacking
    • No ISSN