How to Identify Predatory and Fake Journals?

With the introduction of open access over a decade ago, a positive step towards dissemination of current scientific research results was taken. However, currently, academics are facing a huge problem which is the rise of predatory and fake journals that are willing to publish anything for a fee.

Competitive pressures in all fields of academic research have created a situation where researchers are looking for any journals to just get their work published and recognized. Especially if you are under a tremendous pressure to get published you are faced with a greater risk of giving in to these predatory journals.  A well-written email from a seemingly legitimate journal asking you to submit a paper might seem like the answer to your prayers. The journal might sweeten the invitation by asking you to join the editorial board as a “valued contributor”. The prestigious journals are already so overwhelmed with research paper submissions that they never have to ask for articles.

Nevertheless, you might convince yourself that this new journal has just started and it needs your help. You might spend couple of hours looking at the website and do some rudimentary research on the new potential. And then you realize something is fishy! So here is the question: how to identify predatory/fake journals?

How to Identify Predatory and Fake Journals

Jeffrey Beall, a research librarian at the University of Colorado maintains “Beall’s List” of “predatory open access journals,” and flags questionable journals with specific reasons for inclusion on his list. Here are some indicators to look out for according to him:

  • “The journal has no address or contact information other than an email address listed.
  • There are articles listed but no evidence of an editorial board to review those articles.
  • The website has an overwhelming number of images from major publishers who would have no reason to partner with this journal.
  • The editorial board seems to contain very prominent researchers who would be too busy to work with an unknown journal.
  • There is no mention of an APF. This means you’ll likely receive an outrageous bill after your article has been rapidly accepted for publication.
  • There is no mention of a peer review process or basic submission requirements.”

Nowadays a lot of professionals like Jeffrey Beall, put considerable time and effort to actually list these questionable journals and the tricks they are using. It is understandable the temptations authors feel to give in to these options, however, taking the extra steps to question the information presented to you can save you both money and frustration.

Do some basic research on journal blacklists to see if this journal is listed (and confirmed) as questionable. Something else that you can do is to run the site content through text-matching tools and find out if the content has been pirated from other sites. We shall gather and present more information regarding this issue on the coming posts to help the academics to identify and avoid falling into the trap of predatory journals.