Predatory journals

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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 26 January 2018


See also Dis-information and 'fake news' in a post-truth world | Institutional repositories | Open access | Open search | Research Portal for Academic Librarians | Scholarly publishing and communication

According to Wikipedia, "....predatory open access publishing is an exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not). "Beall's List", a report regularly updated by Jeffrey Beall until January 2017, set forth criteria for categorizing predatory publications and lists publishers and independent journals that meet those criteria. Newer scholars from developing countries are said to be especially at risk of becoming the victim of these practices..."

Predatory journals is a phrase (now in wider usage) coined by Jeffrey Beall, scholarly communications librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, that refers to journals (and journal publishers) whose main purpose seems to be to exploit ("prey on") scholars and academics and their need to publish the results of their research. Recently, predatory conferences also entered the lexicon AuthorAID. What are ‘predatory’ conferences and how can I avoid them? Feb 6th, 2017. Beall's lists were maintained until he retired them in 2017 but grew to thousands of journals and publishers alleged to have exploited open-access publishing for profit. In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, he stated that "...predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. ...they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee [and] characterized by a level of deception and lack of transparency; some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or claim a stringent peer-review where none exists." Some journal publishers send multiple messages to researchers with invitations to publish their findings and present them at conferences and pocket publication or registration fees while providing little or no review. Beall populated the lists based on 52 criteria he developed. Beall continues to be involved in controversies which include criticizing academic librarians for their advocacy within the open access movement.

  • One of five pieces on predatory journals in this special issue of the journal Biochemia Medica. Beall outlines the history of the 'predatory (black) list' and his views on the landscape of journal publishing.

Cabell's The Journal Blacklist Released July 2017 new2.gif

In an effort to assist researchers, a replacement for Beall's list was released in July 2017. Rick Anderson at The Scholarly Kitchen published a good review of Cabell's List in late July 2017:

  • Cabells will release The Journal Blacklist in 2017, which will be the only blacklist of deceptive and predatory academic journals. Specialists analyze over 60 behavioral indicators to keep the community abreast of the growing threats and to keep researchers protected from exploitative operations. Access a database of detailed reports for every journal that our specialists have evaluated and flagged as a probable threat. Each report provides ways to identify the journal and enumerates the specific predatory behaviors that the evaluation revealed.

A version of Beall's list "relaunched" 2017

  • On the website, Beall's list of predatory journals and publishers was put back online. In one area of the site, the list is said to be "a copy of the original and retrieved from a cached copy in January 2017"; elsewhere, it says it will be kept up to date; however, this is the exact text of the original website. Is it misleading? Who is behind the site, and is it kept up to date or is this just a friendlier way than an archived website of making the original list available again?

Predatory journals and health librarians

See Miller E, DeBerg J. The Perils of Predatory Publishing: Views and Advice from an Editor and a Health Sciences Librarian. Pain Management Nursing. 2017;18(6):351–352.

Health librarians are attuned to predatory journal publishers and their practices. In Canada, OMICS publishers bought Andrew John Publishing of Dundas, Ontario, which owned a dozen legitimate publications. OMICS also acquired Pulsus Group, a legitimate publisher that managed the Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy and more than 30 other credible publications. See Tencer D. OMICS, Owner Of Canadian Medical Journals, Caught Running Fake Science. Huffington Post. Nov 23 2016. and Spears T. Respected medical journal turns to dark side. Ottawa Citizen. August 27th, 2014.

In a 2015 paper published in BMC Medicine, two academics based at the Hanken School of Economics in Finland mapped the rise of papers in predatory journals. In 2010, there were about 1,800 active predatory journals; by 2014, this number had grown to 8,000. See Shen C, Björk BC. 'Predatory' open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Med. 2015 Oct 1;13:230.

2017 Articles new2.gif that discuss predatory journals and publishers post-Beall

Video & slide presentations

Some questions health librarians can share with researchers to assist

  • Does the publisher provide full, verifiable contact information, including an address and phone number?
  • Is the journal transparent about recognized experts with full affiliations on editorial boards? Ask board members about their experiences with the journal and/or publisher.
  • Does the journal display its policy clearly around fees? open access fees, and author fees.
  • Are authors bombarded by e-mail invitations to submit papers or to serve as editorial members?
  • Read the journal's published articles and assess their quality; contact past authors to ask about their experiences.
  • Is the journal transparent about its peer-review process; is it described; is the claimed impact factor correct?
  • Is the journal a member of an association that vets members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals ( or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (
  • Some questionable journals continue to appear in directories such as DOAJ and Cabell's thus do not use this as your only evaluation criterion. In fact, exercise your collections and critical appraisal instincts; if it looks questionable proceed with caution or dig deeper.
  • Contact a health librarian for assistance.

To determine open access journals that charge no fees

Projects to help researchers find legit journals

Ethics in open access publishing

So-called predatory publishers

  • “Dear Esteemed Author:” Spotting a Predatory Publisher in 10 Easy Steps. STFM blog, May 23, 2016.
  • According to Wikipedia, Jeffrey Beall is a librarian and associate professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, known for his monitoring and criticism of predatory open access publishing. He makes no claims about the titles he lists; the Beall list is a useful starting point for debate but each title should be evaluated and investigated. If scholars publish in the wrong journal this will be detected by their peers on tenure and promotion committees. Every field has a range of journals and reaching the widest possible audience sometimes means that papers are submitted to journals at the top tier. Beall's titles fall into some of the grey areas around top tier-not top tier. Librarians can provide information about suitable/unsuitable places to publish and explain why we think they are; it is up to scholars and researchers to decide what to do with the information.
  • The Nurse, Author, & Editor journal has put together some guidelines for editors to determine if a journal is predatory or not. These guidelines came out of the INANE (International Academy of Nursing Editors) annual meeting this August. Jeffrey Beall was one of the keynote speakers and spoke on the dangers of predatory publishing. While intended for editors, the list can definitely used by authors, including non-nursing authors, too. You do need to register for a free account to view the article though.
  • INANE Predatory Publishing Practices Collaborative. (2014). Predatory Publishing: What Editors Need to Know. Nurse, Author, & Editor, 24(3).
  • In 2015, Beyond Beall's List: better understanding predatory publishers was published in College and Research Libraries. It generated a discussion between Beall and the authors here:

Guidelines for evaluating publishers

Seven (7) warning signs a scientific paper’s authorship was bought

According to Retraction Watch, there are seven recurring signs that indicate a scientific paper's authorship was bought:

  1. A cover letter that is substantially worse in grammar, spelling and writing quality than the accompanying manuscript
  2. Few shared co-authored papers between combinations of authors
  3. Few authored papers for individual authors
  4. Few to no citations of papers by individual co-authors in the manuscript’s bibliography
  5. An absence of previous publications by one or more co-authors in the field of the manuscript
  6. The same email address used for multiple authors
  7. Textual overlap with other papers (aka plagiarized text)

13 characteristics of potential predatory journals in biomedicine

Taken from Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, Clark J, Galipeau J, Roberts J, Shea BJ. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Med. 2017 Mar 16;15(1):28.

  1. The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics
  2. The website contains spelling and grammar errors
  3. Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized
  4. The homepage language targets authors
  5. The Index Copernicus Value is promoted as a reliable metric on the journal website
  6. Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking
  7. Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email
  8. Rapid publication is promised
  9. There is no retraction policy
  10. Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent
  11. The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)
  12. Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright
  13. The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., or

Websites and documents of interest


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