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Predatory publishers masquerade as legitimate online journals, but dealing with them wastes your time and money and can damage your academic reputation.
Tools for assessing journals
What is predatory publishing?
The peer-reviewed scholarly record is the basis for building further knowledge. While the peer-review process is not perfect, it provides some quality assurance for the material that ultimately passes review and is published. Moreover, legitimate scholarly publications serve as an archive of this record, maintaining our ability to access and use this knowledge through time.
Predatory publishers fail to fulfill either of these obligations. They have minimal or no peer review of submitted manuscripts, and there is no guarantee that the journals they publish will persist through time, especially if the company goes out of business. Another problem is that even when they do publish good research, the work is likely to be ignored, because these journals are often not indexed in major databases and other scholars do not read them.
Worst of all, authors pay for the privilege of receiving these dubious services.
Indicators of a predatory publisher
Here are some of the warning signs of a predatory publisher:
- The journal has no ISSN
- The journal is not indexed in major indices like SCI/SSCI
- The journal is not indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
- The journal's title differs only slightly from that of a major, well-known journal in the field
- The journal's website looks unprofessional
- Editorial policies are difficult to find or are nonexistent on the website
- There is no clear contact information for the journal editor or the publisher
- There is no article submission system – everything is submitted via e-mail or a basic web form
- E-mail addresses for editorial staff are not institutional addresses (e.g. '@gmail.com' instead of '@auburn.edu')
- The journal asks you to review an article far outside of your area of expertise
- The journal promises an unreasonably short time to publication, typically two or three weeks
- The article processing charge is unreasonably low, typically $500 or less
While even some legitimate publishers will fulfill one or more of these criteria, they do indicate a potential problem. Proceed cautiously with publishers that display a few of these issues, and avoid them altogether if most of the list applies.
Research Data Management Librarian