Background

New open access journals are being set up by reputable publishers, scholarly societies and universities each year.  Although the majority of these new journals are legitimate, the credentials of some are questionable, and are often referred to as 'predatory'.  They commonly send spam emails to potential authors, solicit submissions and request payment of Article Processing Charges, but lack any discernible rigour or credibility.

Some academic authors are being duped into submitting their research outputs to be published in these vanity journals that do not have proper quality control or peer review processes.  It is strongly recommended that University of Dundee researchers always check the credibility of unfamiliar publishers and journals prior to submission.

The risks

Publishing in a predatory journal has the following risks:

  • No proper peer review is carried out to preserve the quality of research output.
  • Damage to the reputation of the researcher and institution.
  • Researchers and institutions lend their reputation to a disreputable publication.
  • Negative impact on the REF submission if the publication is not detected.

Warning signs

  • The Board of Editors list shows that members are not recognised in their field or are affiliated with questionable institutions; however, sometimes Board member names may be used without their permission, so it may be worthwhile to directly contact a Board member, if they are known to you, to determine if they indeed endorse the journal.
  • Journals with dubious addresses for their registered office.
  • Unsolicited email or paper communication inviting publication in journals you don't know and have never heard of.
  • Unsolicited invitations to conferences run by event managers, not professionals in the research area, often at attractive destinations.
  • Legitimate journals acknowledge their newly formed status and do not attempt to feign reputation by referring to false Impact Factors or inclusion of content in indexing and abstracting services.

What you can do:  Think.  Check.  Submit.

  • Resist the temptation to publish quickly and easily in an unknown journal.  Be aware of the publication landscape in your research area and the most reputable journals.
  • Checkout the publisher - reference this list for your chosen journal to check if it is trusted.
  • Consult the Directory of Open Access Journals for reputable OA journals.
  • Reputable journals typically will be listed in Scopus or Web of Science (Access via the Library and Learning Centre).

Think.  Check.  Submit. is a new campaign led by representatives from organisations across the publishing industry: ALPSP, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), INASP, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), ISSN, LIBER, OASPA, UKSG and individual publishers.  The aim of the campaign is to help researchers understand their options, and key criteria they can check before making an informed decision about where to submit.

If you are uncertain about any of the information on display here, or would like advice on a specific journal please contact the Research Services team at discovery@dundee.ac.uk who will be happy to help you.

Bogus conferences

Researchers may also receive unsolicited requests to submit papers to conferences and symposia.  Again, a healthy degree of caution should be exercised before engaging with correspondence with the organisations behind these requests.  The following articles from Science give an insight into the world of bogus or predatory conferences, and offer some useful guidelines to observe.

Dubious conferences put the 'pose' in 'symposium'

Meetings that flatter, but may not deliver