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Scholarly Communication

An exploration of issues relating to scholarly communication and open access.

What is predatory publishing?

Predatory publishers share several characteristics:

  • They engage in questionable business practices, such as charging excessive author fees or failing to disclose publication fees to potential authors.
  • They fail to follow accepted standards of scholarly publishing, particularly in regards to peer review.
  • They exist to make money by taking advantage of the "author-pays model" of open access journal publishing,* and have no interest in promoting scholarship or advancing knowledge.

*Charging authors/funding bodies to publish articles open access is a model used by many reputable journal publishers and is not the single factor used to determine if a journal should be considered "predatory."

For further information, please review Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing by Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

Is This a Legitimate Publisher or Journal?

It is sometimes hard to distinguish between a genuine journal or publisher and a 'predatory' one. Some predatory journals and publishers are known to send out bulk emails to potential authors soliciting material for publication, often targeting early career researchers and research students by offering to publish dissertations or theses for free. Others seek to generate income by charging authors and institutions for open access publication and appear to be genuine by choosing very similar titles to established journals and populating them with freely available open access articles in their titles.

You should follow the Think! Check! Submit! guidance - see in particular the Checklist - which will help you assess whether a journal operates according to proper scholarly practice. There are steps you should take to verify the credentials of a prospective journal and publisher before submitting your manuscript.

Positive Indicators

  • Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
  • Journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
  • Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
  • Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal web site and clearly explained
  • Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g., doi:10.1111/j.1742-9544.2011.00054.x)
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
  • Journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678)
  • Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb, Global Serials Directory
  • Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Journal is included in subject databases and/or indexes

Negative Indicators

  • Journal web site is difficult to locate or identify
  • Publisher “About” information is absent on the journal’s web site
  • Publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
  • Instructions to authors information is not available
  • Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal web site
  • Journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
  • No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
  • Repeat lead authors in same issue
  • Publisher has a negative reputation (e.g., documented examples in Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)