Predatory Publishers: Home

This guide is intended to assist researchers in recognizing and avoiding questionable or disreputable publishers and journals (commonly called "predatory publishers").

Grad Students Beware!

Graduate students: Be very cautious of publishers that appear out of nowhere and express interest in publishing your recently completed thesis or dissertation.

What sounds too good to be true usually is.

The most notorious of these entities is LAPLambert. Read this Slate article, and do a Google search for the many bloggers who have complained about this "publisher." They have perfected their strategy to the degree that you are likely to receive an email from them within days of your thesis being posted in the eCommons (USask's repository).

LAPLambert is basically a print-on-demand vanity publisher. You will not have to pay, but you will also likely not receive anything from them... not even a copy of the book itself. And in return you will have signed away your copyright and cannot publish your work with a legitimate publisher in the future!

Additionally, most universities are aware of this disreputable company. Having a publication from them on your CV will not reflect well on you when applying for jobs.

"Predatory" Publishers

"Predatory" publishers use deceptive practices to lure authors to publish with them. They exploit the open access author-pays business model for their own profit and conduct little or no peer review or editing work.

Always carefully assess an unfamiliar publisher before submitting your work to them. Use some of the checklists and resources listed in this guide to help, and ask colleagues for their opinions. Your liaison librarian may also be able to advise you.

Think, Check, Submit

Use this checklist to assess an unfamiliar journal.

 

White List: Finding a Reputable Open Access Journal

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a highly regarded, quality-controlled list of reputable open access journals.

DOAJ has been criticized in the past for letting some questionable journals slip onto the list. In 2014, they undertook a significant overhaul requiring all journals to reapply for inclusion. The new criteria for inclusion are much more rigorous. 

**Please be aware that some disreputable journals claim to be listed in DOAJ but are not. DOAJ maintains this list of journals: Some journals say they are indexed in DOAJ but they are not


Also see:

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) - Legitimate open access publishers are usually members of this association.


For more information about Open Access please visit the USask Library Open Access guide.

Black List: Beall's List

Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, coined the term "predatory publishers." He investigated suspected scam publishers/journals and maintained lists of them at his blog: Scholarly Open Access. Recently (Jan 2017), his lists and blog were suddenly taken down. Below are links to the lists available through the Internet Archive.

NOTE: These lists are not being updated.


Caveat: Jeffrey Beall has done a wonderful service for the academic community in raising our awareness of this issue, however, he is a controversial figure. He has been accused of lack of transparency since the majority of titles on his list have no accompanying discussion as to why they were included. It is also unethical to rely solely on just one person's opinions.

If a title you want to publish in is on his list then this should raise red flags, BUT....to ensure a full perspective it is necessary that you also do your own analysis of potentially illegitimate journals and publishers.

Articles Discussing the Problems with Beall's List:

Serials Directories

To find out more information about a particular journal title try one of these serials directories. Ulrich's is the most well-known and comprehensive.

Who to Contact

Please contact your liaison librarian for additional support.

This guide was created, and is maintained by Maha Kumaran, Health Sciences Librarian, and DeDe Dawson, Science Liaison Librarian.

Journal Evaluation Tool

A nice rubric tool to help in evaluating journals. From librarians at Loyola Marymount University.

Criteria Lists for Assessing Journals

Checking Impact Factors - JCR

If the journal you are investigating claims to have an impact factor (IF) - double check it! Go to Journal Citation Reports (JCR) to look up the journal and verify its impact factor.

Important:

  • Every journal listed in JCR is legitimate, but not all legitimate journals are listed here (only those with IFs). Many reputable, legitimate journals do not have IFs. They are just not "high profile" enough to be considered by JCR.
  • The Impact Factor metric is produced ONLY by JCR (Thomson Reuters). Don't get fooled by journals claiming to have another similar sounding metric.

Ethics in Scholarly Publishing

Scholarly publishing is a highly profitable and very competitive industry. Academia can also be hyper-competitive with researchers under extreme pressure to increase their profile and metrics for promotion and tenure.

So, in this atmosphere, it is not surprising that even reputable, legitimate publications can often become embroiled in unethical situations. And desperate or unscrupulous authors may try to game the system.

For more info and examples of these kinds of controversies see:

  • Retraction Watch - is a blog that tracks various incidents of this nature: plagiarism, peer-review scandals, falsified data, etc.
  • Committee on Publication Ethics - COPE is a forum for editors and publishers of peer reviewed journals to discuss all aspects of publication ethics.

Open Access Information


Open access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the Internet and the consent of the author or copyright holder.

See the Open Access LibGuide for more information.

See the Open Access @ UofS Library blog for the latest news on this issue.