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What is Predatory or Deceptive Publishing?

Predatory publishing or deceptive publishing "is an exploitative academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without checking articles for quality and legitimacy, and without providing editorial and publishing services that legitimate academic journals provide, whether open access or not." (

It is important to note that if a publisher asks an author to pay a publication fee, often referred to as an Article Processing Charge (APC), it does not make the journal predatory or deceptive by default. Utilizing APCs can be a legitimate business model to aid both open access and traditional journals in off-setting publishing and editorial charges that the journal would traditionally get by charging a subscription fee to readers. 

While predatory or deceptive publishing is often associated with journal publishing, other publishing outlets such as book and book chapter publishing and even conferences may be impacted by this type of publishing. 

If you have questions or need more information about predatory or deceptive publishing, you can contact Sarah Norris, Scholarly Communication Librarian, or schedule an appointment

Characteristics or Common Traits of Predatory Publishers

Though not comprehensive, the following is a list of characteristics that may be associated with a predatory or deceptive publisher. 

  • A journal title which can be easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the journal’s origin, scope or association with other journals
  • Very wide scope
  • Displays of unofficial impact factors
  • False claims of being indexed in major services like PubMed or DOAJ
  • No publisher address or contact information
  • Unclear ownership of the journal
  • Spams researchers with many emails inviting submissions, often unrelated to expertise
  • Advertises very fast times from submission to publication
  • Publishes out-of-scope articles
  • Publishes nonsense articles
  • Poor or non-existent editing of articles (many spelling mistakes or very poor grammar)
  • Hides information on charges
  • No editorial board is listed, or the editorial board comprises dead or retired scholars or scholars who are not specialised in the topic
  • Lack of information on the policies of the journal, such as peer review, licensing and copyright

"About Predatory Publishing" by Think. Check. Submit. is licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

How to Identify a Predatory/Deceptive Publisher

Question to consider when identifying predatory publishers.

  • Is the journal or publisher well-known to peers/colleagues or academic advisors?
  • Is the journal indexed in a reputable index, such as Web of Science or another academic library database?
  • Are details about the journal, journal editors, and contact information provided on the publisher's website?
  • Does the publisher's site include a description of the article review policy or details about the type of peer-review process?
  • Is the publication topic coverage very broad or does the publisher offer to provide rapid publication?
  • Is the publication is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)?
  • Is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association (OASPA) or the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?

Asking these types of questions will help aid you in assessing whether a publisher or journal is a suitable venue for your research. 

Think. Check. Submit.

Think. Check. Submit. "helps researchers identify trusted journals and publishers for their research. Through a range of tools and practical resources, this international, cross-sector initiative aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications." 

Think. Check. Submit. from Think. Check. Submit. on Vimeo.

Resources to Help Avoid Predatory Publishers