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Looking to Publish? Avoid Predatory Publishers

by Katie McLean on 2017-01-16T15:19:00-04:00 in Publishing, Research | Comments

UPDATED: October 3, 2018. Original Post: January16, 2017.

A “predatory publisher” is an opportunistic publishing venue that exploits an author’s need or desire to publish. The main motivation of the “predatory publisher” is monetary gain; they do not care about the quality of the work and often engage in unethical business practices (e.g. spamming researchers and authors). Peer review, indexing in major research databases and other standard services of established scholarly publishers are often not provided by the “predatory publisher”.

Adapted from What are predatory academic journals? (The Economist), Understanding Predatory Publishers (Iowa State University Library). Accessed October 3, 2018.

According to Denver-based academic librarian Jeff Beall, an authority on this topic and author of Beall’s List of Potential, Possible, or Probable Predatory Scholarly Open-Access Publishers, there are currently more than one thousand predatory open access publishers. The number of predatory publishers identified by Beall’s list increased by 232 in 2016 alone. [EDIT: As of January 15, 2017, Beall's site was shut down for unknown reasons.]

Researching the integrity of the journal you are looking to publish in before you submit is very important. Many researchers and authors often receive unsolicited emails from publishers offering deals on fast, open access publishing. Ownership of journal titles and publishing houses shifts, and what was once a reputable journal may be sold to a disreputable company. For example, Ottawa Citizen journalist Tom Spears reports that predatory publisher OMICS International purchased three previously trusted Canadian Science publishers last year (including Pulsus Group).

As the saying goes, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Increased pressure to publish, open access publishing options, and the high cost to publish and get access to subscription journals have all contributed to the rise of the predatory publisher. 

How to Avoid Predatory Publishers
  • Connect with library staff to help you investigate potential journals to submit your work to and/or any unsolicited offers to publish in a journal or join an editorial board for an unknown publisher
  • Look for trusted third party metrics (Journal Citation Reports, Scimago Journal & Country Rank) used to measure the impact of a specific journal title
  • Use this checklist to evaluate if the journal you are publishing in or working with is trusted
  • Ask your colleagues what they know about specific publishers and journal titles in your field and share any new knowledge you gain about possible predatory publishers with your peers

Katie McLean

Librarian Educator, Education & Outreach
Dickson Building, Central Zone


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