A Guide to Avoiding Predatory Publishers

Predatory publishing

Publishing with a predatory publisher can damage an academic's reputation with potential repercussions for tenure and promotion. Signing up for a predatory conference can cost time and money with no benefit to your academic CV. Before conferencing and publishing, learn more about the conference or journal.

Back to top

Predatory journal publishers

Predatory publishers (also referred to as 'deceptive publishers') are for-profit entities that attempt to lure academics into publishing in journals that do not follow accepted best practices for scholarly publications. Ultimately, these publishers are motivated by money rather than the publication of high-quality research. Spotting a predatory journal or a predatory conference is becoming increasingly difficult.

Predatory publishers may possess one or more of the following tendencies:

The email

  • Unsolicited email invitations to publish your work
  • Use of the wrong academic title (i.e., Dr for PhD candidates)
  • Sender poses as a member of a legitimate journal's editorial board
  • Sender promotes themselves as offering Open Access publications supported by peer-review
  • Requires exorbitant fees, especially when options with article processing charges are absent
  • Communication style is flattering or intimidating, pressuring you to submit on a short deadline

The web

  • They might not have a website
  • Website might be filled with spelling errors
  • Quality of copyediting in published articles may be low
  • Not indexed in major academic research databases (Google Scholar, Ulrich's Web or Mendeley don't count)
  • Publication workflow has an abnormally fast turnaround, (i.e., a couple of weeks)


How to Assess a Journal: a one-page infographic developed by CARL on key things to consider when assessing a journal.

Think.Check.Submit: a series of checklists to identify trusted journals and publications prior to submitting your work. These checklists are tailored to help you assess if your article, chapter, or book should be submitted to a journal or publication.

Identifying Deceptive Publishers: A Checklist (University of Toronto Libraries): this checklist aims to help you avoid publishing your work in a predatory publication. If the source you are looking at meets all the criteria on the checklist, do not submit.

Open Access journals

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): a directory of legitimate and open access journals. If a publication is included in DOAJ, consider this to be a step in the right direction, but not necessarily a guarantee on the journal being a legitimate publication. If a journal claims to be in the DOAJ and is not, consider this a red flag. Keep in mind that not all legitimate publications appear in the directory.

Impact factor

Journal Citation Reports (JCR): If a journal is claiming to have an Impact Factor (IF), you can check the JCR to see if the journal is listed and its corresponding IF. This report does not include every legitimate journal—just journals with IFs. Tip: If a publication is claiming to use IFs from another resource that is not the JCR, be wary. IFs are solely produced by JCR.

Back to top

Predatory conferences

Predatory conferences are often small or one-off events, typically designed solely for profit. They exploit the researcher's need to share research, network, and to collaborate with peers. The details about the conference are usually vague and the research topics are general.

Predatory conferences may have the following characteristics

The email invitation for a predatory conference is like a predatory journal: flattering or intimidating. While some conferences may be expensive to attend, they often offer low-cost options for students or society members. Legitimate academic conferences will cover costs and provide an honorarium for keynote and special guest speakers. Predatory conferences on the other hand invite you as a special guest to present your work without lowering the cost.


Think.Check.Attend.: a quick guide on deciding whether the conference is right for you.

Conference Evaluation Tool: created by Emme Lopez & Christine S. Gaspard to help assess if a conference is predatory or not.

Back to top
Back to top arrow up, go to top of page