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Understanding Predatory Publishing

This guide is designed to increase awareness of Predatory Publishing practices, guidelines on how to avoid, and how to seek assistance from information experts.

Basics of Predatory Publishing

Predatory publishing is an academic publishing model that charges author fees to publish in a journal that does not undergo the traditional scholarly editorial process of checking the validity and quality of an article prior to publication.

Common signs of predatory publishing:

  • Mimicry of other respected journals, such as a similar name;

  • Incorrect use of a proper ISSN;

  • Fake editorial boards- either incorrectly listing an academic board member or listing one with fake credentials

  • Accepting articles quickly without signs of peer review or quality control;

  • Notification of fees after a paper is accepted;

  • Not a member of COPE;

  • Not indexed in a well established database;

  • Journal uses poor language.

Additional warning signs based on the 16 Principles of transparency are suggested by COPE:

1. Website: The journal’s website contains misleading or false information (eg, indexing, metrics, membership of scholarly publishing organizations), lacks an ISSN or uses one that has already been assigned to another publication, mimics another journal/publisher’s site, or has no past or recent journal content.

2. Name of journal: The journal name is the same as or easily confused with that of another in scope, or association.

3. Peer review process: Peer review and peer review process and model are not mentioned, or manuscript acceptance or a very short peer review time is guaranteed. Submitted manuscripts receive inadequate or no peer review.

4. Ownership and management: Information about the ownership and/or management is missing, unclear, misleading, or false.

5. Governing body: Information on the editorial board is missing, misleading, false, or inappropriate for the journal; full names and affiliations of editorial board members are missing.

6. Editorial team/contact information: Full names and affiliations of the journal’s editor/s and full contact information for the editorial office are missing, the editor-in-chief is also the owner/publisher, or the editor-in-chief is also the editor of many other journals, especially in unrelated fields.

7. Copyright and licensing: Policies and notices of copyright (and publishing license and user license) are missing or unclear.

8. Author fees: Mandatory fees for publication are not stated or explained clearly on the journal website, submission process, or the letter of acknowledgment and/or are revealed only in the acceptance letter, as a condition of acceptance.

9. Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: There is no description on how cases of alleged misconduct are handled.

10. Publication ethics: There are no policies on publishing ethics (e.g., authorship/contributorship, data sharing and reproducibility, intellectual property, ethical oversight, conflicts of interest, corrections/retractions). See: publicationethics.org.

11. Publishing schedule: The periodicity of publication is not indicated and/or the publishing schedule appears erratic from the available journal content.

12. Access: The way(s) in which content is available to readers, and any associated costs, is not stated, and in some cases listed articles are not available at all.

13. Archiving: There is no electronic backup and preservation of access to journal content (despite such claims).

14. Revenue sources: Business models, business partnerships/agreements, or revenue sources are not stated; publishing fees or waiver status are linked to editorial decision making.

15. Advertising: Advertising policy is not given, or advertisements are linked to editorial decision making or are integrated with published content.

16. Direct marketing: Direct marketing is obtrusive and gives misleading or false information.