If you are familiar with academic publishing, you have certainly encountered predatory journals and publishers. Predatory publishing has seen an increase with the rise of Open Access publishing, and predatory publishers often target college faculty who are central to the publishing ecosysyem.

Predatory journals and publishers are defined as “entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.” Nature 576, 210-212 (2019).

Determining whether a journal or publisher is predatory can be tricky. Below are some factors that should help you decide. The list is not exhaustive, and there may be other factors that may go into your analysis.

  • Do you receive frequent unsolicited emails from the publisher asking you to publish in their journal or to become a journal editor?
  • Is there an extremely broad variety of publishing topics?
  • Is the web site professional? Is it poorly designed? Are there multiple misspellings and grammatical errors? Does the URL match the journal title?
  • Have you or your colleagues heard of the journal?
  • Is the peer review period unreasonably short? Is an abbreviated peer review period offered for an extra charge?
  • Is the journal indexed in reputable places? (Check the UAB Libraries’ Ulrich’s database to find out if and where a journal is indexed.)
  • Does the journal have an impact factor from a reputable source? (You can find many journals’ impact factors using the UAB Libraries’ Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database.)
  • Are Article Publication Charges (APC’s) reasonable? How are they calculated? Are they defined up-front?

None of these factors are individually determinative of whether a journal or publisher is or is not predatory. They should be considered together when making such an assessment.

The UAB Libraries have created additional materials relating to predatory publishing here. If you need further help with this topic, please contact the Office of Scholarly Communication.