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Predatory Publishers: Home

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

"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:

Trusted 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. Established in 2003.

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. If a journal is listed on here it is a very good sign that it is reputable.

**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.

"Predatory" List: Beall's List

Jeffrey Beall, formerly 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. In 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, 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

This guide was created, and is maintained by Maha Kumaran, Education Librarian, and DeDe Dawson, Science & Scholarly Communication Librarian.

Please contact your liaison librarian for additional support:

Guides & Checklists

Predatory Conferences

No just publishers but conferences too...

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.

For more information see:

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.

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.


  • 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 (Clarivate). Don't get fooled by journals claiming to have another similar sounding metric.