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Predatory Publishing: Evaluating Predatory Journals

Evaluating Predatory Journlas


Created by Ruth Bueter at George Washington University

Evaluating A Publisher

E-mailed Invitations to Submit an Article:

  • Was the e-mail well written?
  • Were there typos or misspelled words?
  • Was the language awkward or unprofessional?
  • Did the e-mail use flattery to convince you to submit your article or join their editorial board?
  • Did the e-mail come from a generic contact address (gmail, yahoo, etc.)?
  • Are you being solicited to contribute to a subject outside of your  field?
  • A majority of predatory publishers require manuscript submission via e-mail, while legitimate publishers typically require manuscripts submissions via a journal-specific or third party submission system. 
  • Is the title trying to make you believe it is a journal or publisher with which you are already familiar?  Many predatory publishers create journal titles that are intentionally similar to well respected journals. 

Misleading Geographic Information in the Title:

  • A title might suggest that the journal is based in the United States or the United Kingdom, but in reality, the publisher might be based in India or China.

 Website Appearance:

  • Is the journal's website easy to find?
  • Are there spelling and/or grammatical errors?  
  • Are images distorted or fuzzy? Are images authorized to appear on the website? 
  • Does the website include "About" information? If so, is the information provided sufficient?
  • Does the journal/publisher claim to be a "leading publisher" or use boastful language regarding their reputation?
  • Is copyright information lacking or unclear?
  • Is digital preservation information lacking or inadequate? 

Insufficient Contact Information: 

  • Does the contact information include a physical address, phone number, and e-mail addresses? Be wary of journals that only provide a web contact form.
  • Search Google Maps to for the address.  Does the building look like the type of space you would except a reputable journal to use? 

Lack of Editors or Editorial Board:

  • Does the journal list the members of its editorial board on their website? 
  • Are these people recognized experts in their field with full credentials? 
  • Contact journal editors and board members and ask about their experience with the journal.

Unclear Author Fee Structures:

  • Are author fees clearly explained? 
  • Do the author fees seem similar to other reputable open access journals?

Bogus Impact Factors:

Peer Review Process:

  • Is the process clearly explained on the journal's website?  Can you verify that this process is actually followed?
  • Does the journal promise quick peer-review?  Proper peer-review is a time consuming process. A speedy peer-review process is an indication that either no peer-review is taking place, or the peer-review that is happening is of low quality.

Evaluate Published Articles:

  • Have numerous articles been published by the same author(s)? 
  • Do article titles and abstracts seem appropriate for the journal? Do these articles seem well researched? Are articles based on sound science?
  • Do you recognize articles that you have seen in reputable journals?  Predatory publishers sometimes re-publish (plagiarize) papers that have already been published in other journals without providing credit.
  • Are published articles written by academics and experts?
  • Feel free to contact past authors and ask about their experiences with the journal.

Use Common Sense.  If things just don't seem to be right, trust your instincts and stay away.

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