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Open Access

What are predatory journals?

Predatory journals exploit the open-access model in which the author pays the article processing charges. They falsely claim to be offering peer review but publish everything for a fee. They may hide information about article processing charges, misrepresent members of the editorial board, and violate other copyright or scholarly ethics. These journals are of questionable or even downright low quality.

The major ethical considerations in publishing in predatory journals (Ferris & Winker, 2017) are summarised below:

  • Misrepresentation
  • Lack of editorial and publishing standards and practices
  • Academic deception
  • Research and funding wasted
  • Lack of archived content
  • Undermining confidence in research literature

Identifying predatory journals

Selecting journals for publication can affect how research findings reach the research community and the general public. Watch out the following common characteristics of predatory journals (Elmore & Weston, 2020).

Common characteristics of predatory journals

  1. Have very broad and vague journal scope
  2. Mimic name or website of other well-known, legitimate journals
  3. Publish articles with many grammar mistakes (little or no copyediting)
  4. Advertise very fast times from submission to publication
  5. Hide information on charges
  6. No editorial board is listed, or the editorial board comprises dead or retired scholars or scholars who are not specialised in the topic
  7. Lack information on the policies of the journal, such as peer review, licensing and copyright
  8. Advertise a fake Journal Impact Factor or other citation metric on the website

Checklists to look for trustworthy journals

Think. Check. Submit.

Think. Check. Submit. checklist is a tool that will help you discover what you need to know when assessing whether or not a publisher is suitable for your research. Watch this video to learn more:

In addition to the “Think.Check.Submit” checklist, here are some tools to check whether a journal is suitable for publication:

1. Is the journal peer-reviewed?

Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory (Ulrichsweb)
  • Enter a Title, ISSN, or search term to find journals
  • Check whether the journal is Refereed(Peer-reviewed)

2. Is the journal Indexed by popular databases?

  • Reviewed and selected by an independent Content Selection and Advisory Board (CSAB), an international group of researchers with journal editor experience
  • Meets selection criteria, such as peer-review and publication ethics and publication malpractice statement
  • Click “Source” at the top navigation bar to search with Title or ISSN
Web of Science - Master Journal List

3. Is the journal open access and compliant with the principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publishing?

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)
  • An index of trusted open access journals
  • DOAJ's criteria have become a gold standard for open access publishing globally
  • Awarded to journals that demonstrate best practice in open access publishing, 10% of journals indexed in DOAJ awarded the Seal

4. Is the journal's self-claimed citation metric true and official?

CiteScore in Scopus
  • Number of citations to documents by a journal over four years, divided by the number of document published in the same four years
  • Only available to journals indexed in Scopus
Journal Impact Factor from Journal citation reports
  • Measures citations received in the current year by articles published in the previous two years
  • Only available to journals indexed in Web of Science Core Collection

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