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Predatory Publishing: What is Predatory Publishing?

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A portion of this guide was adapted in part from the University of Arizona's "What is Predatory Publishing Guide".

What is Predatory Publishing?

What is Predatory Publishing

In recent years, scholars, researchers, and librarians have attempted to define predatory publishers/journals. A 2019 Commentary in Nature described predatory journals and publishers as “…entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.” (Grudniewicz et al. 2019)

The following year, Elmore and Weston (2020) defined predatory journals as “…publications that claim to be legitimate scholarly journals but misrepresent their publishing practices. Some common forms of predatory publishing practices include falsely claiming to provide peer review, hiding information about article processing charges, misrepresenting members of the journal’s editorial board, and other violations of copyright or scholarly ethics.”

The UK-based Committee On Publication Ethics (COPE) (2019) defines predatory publication as the “systematic for-profit publication of purportedly scholarly content (in journals and articles, monographs, books, or conference proceedings) in a deceptive or fraudulent way and without any regard for quality assurance."

Why You Should Avoid Predatory Journals

  • Your work may be subject to less-than-rigorous or no peer review.
  • Your work could disappear if the publisher goes out of business.
  • Predatory journals might not be indexed in academic databases, thus decreasing the readership and impact of your work.
  • Predatory or deceptive journals may serve as an outlet for plagiarized material or fabricated results.
  • The journal's bad reputation may be extended to the authors, their institutions, or even the entire field or discipline.

Why Do Authors Publish in a Predatory Journal?

  • Authors generally don't want to be exploited, but it can happen if an author is:
  • Unfamiliar with the journal’s field
  • New to research/publishing in general
  • Feels pressure to publish (for Tenure, Promotion, and Retention considerations)
  • Feels pressure to publish quickly

Is There a Definitive List of Predatory Publishers? No, There is Not.

The term, "predatory publisher" was popularized by University of Colorado Librarian Jeffrey Beal, who compiled 
Beall's List of predatory open access publishers. An archived version of that list still exists, as do other so-called "blacklists" of predatory journals. However, such lists should also bear careful scrutiny as some have been criticized for using subjective criteria to judge journals or unfairly characterizing open access journals from non-Western countries as predatory.

How Can You Tell if a Journal/Publisher is Predatory?

Unfortunately, differentiating between predatory and non-predatory publishers and publications is often not clear-cut. This guide was developed to assist you in making those determinations by providing information about common characteristics of predatory journals, a selection of checklists to help determine if a journal/publisher is reputable, and sources for additional reading.

You can navigate to the different sections of this guide using the tabs at the top of the page. 

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