Updated June 8th, 2022
Worldwide, the number of publications will continue to increase exponentially. Through 2021-2025, the publishing market is expected to see a $65.3 billion infusion of market capital, as it goes even more digital. In fact, there are so many journals in some fields that it becomes challenging keeping track of all of them.
Having said this, predatory journals pose a severe threat to the publishing industry. What’s more, it becomes harder to identify a predatory journal, as they are growing faster than ever, and affect researchers worldwide. This article explains what predatory journals are, how you can tell the difference between them and a legitimate journal, and six steps that help you identify a predatory journal.
What is a Predatory Journal?
Predatory journals don’t follow scientific publishing standards. These journals charge authors publication fees or article processing charges (APCs) without organizing peer reviews or other appropriate quality control forms. Therefore, predatory publishing is a significant concern for the Open Access movement and a number of publishers have found ways to exploit this. These publishers offer speedy review times, fast publication, and false claims about their editorial board (which can't be verified or substantiated).
Moreover, it’s unlikely the article will get any citations, a proper peer-review (the research or methods won’t be examined), and it won't have an impact factor. This can have negative repercussions on researchers, especially beginner ones who have just started publishing.
What is the Difference Between Predatory and Legitimate Journals?
Below are ways to spot a predatory journal, making the process of identifying a legitimate one much easier:
- Predatory journals are known to have a lack of transparency in their costs. For example, it’s usually unclear from the journal’s online presence or website what the journal charges are and what they relate to. This can make it difficult for scholars looking for an appropriate publication option that suits their needs.
- Predatory journals are deceiving and dishonest with their list of indicators, especially the impact factor.
- Predatory publications prey on researchers who want to publish faster or without a thorough evaluation by peers. This creates significant problems within academia and can cause conflict between individuals and disciplines due to the lack of judgment in reviewing.
- Predatory journals are a threat to academic integrity and they lack regulations. They list academicians on their publishing/editorial boards without their knowledge and sometimes even against their will.
- Predatory journals go to great lengths to lure authors into their scam (i.e. by sending personalized mass spam emails).
How to Identify a Predatory Journal in 6 Steps
1) Always check the website
Journals are a step up from blogs and internet forums, however, they often have more predatory practices. Journal websites should be professional without spelling and grammar mistakes. Fees should be clearly stated on the website before the article is accepted for publication. Keep in mind that if fees are requested before acceptance, it may not be worth submitting.
2) Check if the journal is a member of DOAJ, COPE, OASPA, or STM
Reputable organizations that vet their members have been around for a while, so don’t forget to check any of the following websites before deciding on a journal:
- Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ)
- Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
- Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)
- International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM).
Additionally, send an email directly to an author if you want to know if they’re a part of any particular association and they'll be able to tell you.
3) Check the journal’s contact information
Another way to avoid predatory journals is to double-check that the contact information is valid. For example, if the journal’s office is in one location, but they have different contact details, perform your journal checks.
Additionally, ensure their email, phone number, and address are valid and you can send emails, call, or find their location on a map.
4) Research the Editorial Board
Check the credibility of a journal by looking at their editorial boards’ credentials. You can do this by looking up individuals on their respective professional online profiles or institution pages.
Furthermore, if you’re reading an article, look for telltale signs that it may not be legitimate. This can include false scholars cited and fabricated article contributions. One way to avoid being fooled is by reading the disclaimer about authors' rights at the beginning of any research paper you’re browsing.
5) Take a look at their peer review process and publication timelines
Peer review is essential to uphold the quality of scientific articles and journals. Therefore, the peer-review process is an important stamp of approval for the publication of academic research. Ensure the journal has clear peer-review guidelines on its website.
6) Read through past issues of the journal
You can always review past journal publications, so take the time to do so before submitting. Remember, if the journal advertises fast peer-review, investigate them further to ensure their policy is valid. Then, compare their policy with the quality of their publications.
We at Orvium understand that the appeal of fast publication might lure unsuspecting researchers into a predatory journal’s web of lies. However, there’s no reason you should work with a journal whose only objective is profit and taking advantage of your hard work.
Don’t support these kinds of publications and don’t hesitate to learn more about our platform, an open place for all your publishing needs. We make submissions, peer-reviews, and publications transparent so there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed.