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SOM Scientific Writing: Predatory Publishing

What is Predatory Publishing?

Predatory publishing is an exploitative academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals.

Identify and Evaluate

Created by the University of Manitoba Libraries

Created by the University of Manitoba Libraries

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Warning Signs/Red Flags

Reposting content created by Judit Ward, Rutgers University Library. Link to the original LibGuide can be found here. Permission to repost has been granted by Ms. Ward.


Flattering email to invite you to submit an article or serve on the editorial board of a "scholarly" journal

  • poor language with typos and awkward style 
  • vocabulary below industry standard with multisyllabic words
  • offer sounds too good to be true

Journal title 

  • sounds similar to a reputable publication (words are in different order or mixed from several other titles)
  • contains prestigious-sounding but potentially vague terms such as "advanced", "global","international", "universal", "world", "open",  (although these words are also used by reputable journals)
  • might be hijacked from a legitimate academic journal: a bogus website offers rapid publication for a fee 

Website with information on the journal, editorial board, and publisher

  • site looks amateurish and unprofessional (layout, typos, poor quality pictures, flashy ads, dead links, abundance of well known logos) 
  • multiple pages "under construction", including current and past issues, editorial board
  • missing, scarce, or contradictory information on "About Us" page (claiming a US address - check with Google Maps)
  • contact information is missing, incomplete, or leads to unavailable links
  • unclear or falsely claimed affiliation to scholarly associations or reputable organizations
  • same publisher publishes multiple journals with a broad scope and from different disciplines
  • editors and editorial board members are from all over the world and have no academic credentials (or are unaware that they are listed!)

Metrics and indexing

  • no ISSN, no DOI
  • invented or fake metrics (sounding similar to established metrics used by reputable journals)
  • Impact Factor can't be verified in Journal Citation Reports
  • falsely claimed to be indexed, e.g., in DOAJ
  • not listed in reputable sources such as Ulrich's Periodical Directory

Article processing and peer review

  • lack of clear instructions to authors
  • lack of transparency or policies about fees related to publishing 
  • article processing fees look below that of reputable open access journals 
  • peer review process is not clearly explained
  • peer review seems to be extremely fast (i.e., days) -  may be non-existent
  • articles are to be submitted via email (some predatory publishers use legitimate editorial manager systems - it doesn't make them legitimate)

Negative reputation

  • journal and/or publisher is already listed on Beall's list
  • listed on Cabell's Blacklist


Note of Caution

The Zucker School of Medicine/Northwell Health librarians conduct literature searches using reputable online databases, yet increasingly, a very small percentage of articles from predatory journals may appear via search results in databases such as PubMed and Scopus.  PubMed and other databases index quality journals that pass a standardized review process. However, citations from PubMed Central (PMC), PubMed’s collection of free or open access journals, are also discoverable in results using PubMed.  A small number of these search results may come from journals that could be considered “predatory.”

To learn more, read this February 2021 article from Nature. Northwell Link / ZSOM Link  

Or review these slides for more information: Northwell Link / ZSOM Link

Or visit the new Medline website to learn more about Medline journals (click on the "About" tab): Medline Website

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