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Predatory Publishing

Scholarly publishing has two models. In the traditional model, the costs of publishing are covered by subscription - readers pay to access the content. Open access (OA), the second model, seeks to make knowledge available more equitably. The cost of publishing is either borne by the journal (or the organization that produces it) or by the author via an article processing charge (APC). Although many reputable, highly respected journals charge APCs, the rise of OA has been coupled with an increase in “predatory publishing” – journals that prey upon the academic mandate to publish.

Predatory journals are not seen as reputable, in part because there is little-to-no content moderation and any peer review, if offered, is not rigorous. In addition, these types of publishers often fail to disclose the cost of publishing or charge exorbitant APCs.

Signs a publisher is (potentially) predatory include (please note that this is not a comprehensive list, nor do any of these issues automatically mean a journal is predatory):

  • Aggressively soliciting content:
    • These emails often contain typos and/or fawning or overly flattering language.
  • The journal’s website lacks information and/or has typos and grammatical errors.
  • The quality of previously published papers is questionable:
    • The articles lack cohesion or are not focused around the journal’s topic.
    • Some predatory publishers may use plagiarized papers or paper mills to produce large amounts of content.
    • Previously published content is low quality and/or the same author(s) has published an inordinate amount in the journal.
  • The journal title is very similar to a prominent journal in the field.
    • This is intended to trick people into publishing with them, thinking they are working with the high-ranking publication.
  • Expedited peer-review:
    • True peer-review is time-consuming and cannot be rushed.
  • Lack of information about APCs:
    • The cost of publishing should be clearly defined on the journal’s website.

If you are not sure if a publisher is predatory, see the Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library’s guide or contact Digital Scholarship Librarian Amy Lazet at