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Predatory Journals and Scam Conferences: A Faculty and Graduate-Student Guide: Home

This guide will alert Faculty members and Graduate students to predatory journals and give some tips of how to avoid becoming entrapped by them and/or being alert to them in student bibliographies


"Predatory open access publishing is an exploitative open-access publishing business model, in academic publishing, that involves charging  exorbitant publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not) and involves authors signing away their rights, thus trapping their research in servers beholden to the 'fake' publisher, which can highly impact a career. "

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Red Flags

  1. Unsolicited invitations to publish or become an editor (look carefully at letterhead).
  2. High fees and hidden fees in small print.
  3. No Retraction Policy.
  4. They retain full and forever copyright of published research (often not mentioned in letter or webpage, but is in the small print of an agreement) - which prevents a real journal from publishing your hard work!
  5. No Peer-Review (though they promise it).
  6. Very fast publication date.
  7. False claims of ranking or found in a bogus ranking list.
  8. Has a website and/or markets itself as an established Journal or as part of a prestigious university, but actually has no affiliation (watch for URL variation from real one) and the language of the homepage targets authors unduly.
  9. Not on "Directory of Open-Access Journals" (a white list).
  10. Scope of interest includes unaffiliated subjects.
  11. Website or letter contains spelling and/or grammar errors.
  12. The index "Copernicus Value" is highlighted in its correspondence or webpage. (This is a bogus index).
  13. Description of the manuscript handling process is slight or non-existent.
  14. Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email, and especially if the contact email is not professional or non-journal affiliated. (i.e. gmail or yahoo, etc...).
  15. No information on how the content will be digitally preserved.
  16. Will actually hold scam conferences where they cull names to solicit for their bogus journals (and maximize profits).

Shamseer, L. (2017). Thirteen ways to spot a ‘predatory journal’ (and why we shouldn’t call them that). Times Higher Education. Retreived from

Online Piracy

Some relevant articles

A related issue: Redacted articles and top offenders.

Reference & Instruction Librarian

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Stella Herzig
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Along with impacting tenure and the hard work done on legitimate research in thier own sphere, faculty should be aware of the journal articles that students are using on their bibliographies. One example of a common predatory journal is "The Journal of Sport Science", which uses a name very close to a legitimate journal like "Journal of Sport Science and Medicine". Please beware; these shady journals will often use such close-sounding names to real peer-reviewed products.

Other aspects

Often these journals are the only avenue for African and Asian faculty and students to both access (due to the prohibitive cost of subscription databases) and to publish their research. A 2015 study in "BMC Medicine" showed that 75% of authors in predatory journals are from Africa and Asia, which may indicate a lack of Western journals open to emerging authors. Unfortunately, their research is not getting the peer-review it deserves due to systemic racism in first-world countries and a lot of these African and Asian school's and government's funds are diverted to these exploitative entities instead of funding an ethical platform based out of their own scholarly centers.

Be Careful About Solicitations!


Thanks to Rob Hudson, Librarian at Upper Iowa University for the content of this libguide. (Originally presented at the Iowa Library Association Fall 2017 conference in Coralville, Iowa on October 20, 2017).