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A Guide to Predatory Publishing

Learn about what they are, how to identify them, and how to protect your intellectual property.

Ways your can protect yourself and your work

"" Research publishers before submitting your work

If you are concerned about a publisher, there are steps you can take to ensure you are submitting your work to a reputable party.  

Icon of a shiny computer monitor. Journal website

  • Take a close look. Are there spelling and grammar errors? 
  • Is the site clear about the journal's scope? Are there subjects listed that may not even be associated with each other? 
  • Explore what the journal has to offer. Are the articles of good quality and do they have valid information? Does the content meet with the scope, if it is included on the journal website?


Icon of a spy wearing a Fedora, dark glasses, and coat. Questionable editorial board

  • Check the editorial board. What are the editors' credentials? Are they experts in the field?
  • Is the editorial board not included on journal site? 
  • If the board is included, is there valid contact information for the editorial board?

Icon of a folded page representing a newspaper. Vague or no peer-review process

  • What is the journal's peer review policy? Is it clearly explained? Can you verify that the publication uses the peer review process?
  • Does the journal promise a quick peer-review, ranging from days, weeks, or a month?

Icon of copyright symbol with blue background. Vague or no copyright policy

  • Is there a copyright policy on the journal or publisher website or is conspicuously missing?
  • If not, is there a Creative Commons license policy on the website? 

Icon of folded periodical. Publication title not related to your field or with a generic title

  • This may seem obvious, but it is worth pointing out. If you are solicited for an article or to present at a conference, make sure the topic is relevant to your field of scholarship.
  • Does the journal have a broad or generic title like International Journal of Scholars or US Open Globalization Journal?  
    • This is not strictly the only way to identify a predatory journal. Some legitimate journals do indeed have somewhat broad titles, but you will be able to identify the valid journals fairly quickly if you know what to identify. 

Icon of magnifying glass. International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • Does the publication have an ISSN?
    • Keep in mind this does not necessarily validate a journal. Dig deeper to ensure the publisher and/or journal is legitimate.  
  • If so, it is indexed by databases such as UlrichsWeb, Scopus, or others?
    • Just because it does it does not mean it is not predatory. Check for more than just an ISSN and indexing before you make your decision to publish.  

Icon of a coin with a dollar symbol. Author fees

  • Is information about author fees visible on the website? 
  • If there is author fee information, how easy was it to access? How many layers did you have to dig through before you found it? Is the information presented vague, or is it excluded completely from the website? 


 Trust your colleagues

  • Have they published with, or are they familiar with, the publisher?  
  • What do your colleagues have to say about the publisher? 

 Use the resources at the University Libraries

Icon of a shining yellow lit light bulb. Other resources

  • Access the Think. Check. Submit. checklist that can help you select a legitimate journal for your research. 
  • The Stop Predatory Journals site has harvested Beall's now defunct list of predatory publishers. This site goes one step further and identifies journals that have been hijacked, or hacked. 

The graphic icons used in this section are from icons8. Reuse of the icons requires a link back to icons8.

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