Help with Predatory Online Open-Access Journals

As some of you know, librarian Jeffrey Beall’s ScholarlyOA web site (which provided Beall’s running list of “possibly/probably predatory online journals”) was shut down earlier this year.

In its absence, these suggestions are also helpful (from here: )


Get started early. While it’s often an afterthought, consider where to submit your manuscript early on, says Andy Pleffer of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. “Think about it up front so you’ve got a longer lead-in time and you can create a longer list of where you might publish. Especially if you’ve got a particular journal on your radar, they might have a special issue coming up that ties in quite neatly with your particular expertise.”

Scan the TOC. Are there any familiar names in the journal’s table of contents? Do you recognize any members of the journal’s editorial advisory board? If the answers to both are no, it’s probably worth looking into alternative titles, says Chad Cook of Duke University.

Read the journal’s policies. Familiarize yourself with the publication’s peer-review process, author fees, and policies pertaining to copyright, access, and conflicts of interest. All should be clearly outlined on the journal’s website.

Beware of “Contact us.” While not always a sign of a suspect publication, journals that do not list editorial staff phone or email contact information—instead, offering only a “contact us” form—is “usually a red flag,” says Pleffer.

Check DOAJ. Look to see if the publication is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals and other scholarly databases, and is indexed on PubMed or by the Institute for Scientific Information. If it’s not, proceed with caution.


Have you published in the journal? If yes, how was the overall experience? If no, have any of your colleagues or your collaborators’ colleagues?

Email overload. “If you get an invitation through email, be extremely suspicious,” says Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. “Most high-quality journals don’t go looking for editorial boards through email. It’s usually the other way around: people want to serve on a particular journal’s editorial board, and they will send an email to the journal.”

Standing members. Examine the journal’s existing board. Do you recognize any names? Are any of the board members senior scientists?  “What I noticed from the beginning was that there were really no well-known people [on the board]. A lot of the people were junior people, like myself,” the University of Kentucky’s Björn Bauer says of his experience with Pharmacologia. Additionally, do the board members list their participation with the journal on their CVs or biosketches? “If they back that up on their profile, that’s generally a good sign,” says Pleffer.


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