A Guide to Avoiding Predatory Publishers

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 arrow up, go to top of page