Researchers and scholars have increased demands to publish and now are provided with many avenues of doing so, including open access. These broader factors have given rise to deceptive* or predatory publishers, academic / commercial publishers that use questionable practices to solicit, review, and distribute original research or other scholarly works.
Open Access and The Rise of Deceptive or Predatory Publishers. Open access publishers distribute their information with minimal or no restrictions for their work to be read and accessed. These publishers generally operate by having their publishing costs be covered by authors who pay a fee to have their research articles published. A drawback to this model is the emergence of publishers that misuse the open access model. Instead of freely distributing information for the benefit of creating new knowledge, deceptive publishers aim to make a profit off authors who are eager to pay for their research to be published.
The Problem. Deceptive publishing hurts scholarly pursuits in various ways:
Another problem is many research funders found the results of their supported in deceptive publishers:
Possible Solutions. A standard "list" of deceptive journals does not exist. Publishing experts acknowledge the fluid nature of deceptive publishers make the use of checklists problematic for evaluating them. Experts suggest to review qualitative and quantitative aspects of a publication, and then weigh and evaluate these attributes to decide whether or not a publication is deceptive. This Research Guide provides some aspects to consider in your deliberation. Contact your campus librarian if you need assistance.
A researcher will become cognizant of high impact journals, research organizations, and publishers as they read literature within their field. However, some journals with scholarly titles may still have the attributes of a deceptive or predatory publication, so let the reader beware.
*Note: 'Deceptive' publishers is the largely accepted term synonymous with 'predatory' publishers; scholarly publishing and communication experts believe the first term accurately describes more of their attributes.
A deceptive publisher may have a combination of the following characteristics. When considering whether or not a publication is deceptive, weigh the following since many works or publishers may possess one or more.
The best way to determine that a publication is reputable is to perform due diligence.
Deceptive or predatory publishers do not have set attributes, and 'official' lists of them do not exist. Consider the following ways to determine the quality and reliability of a publication in question.
1. Visit its home page.
Examine the following information to determine the legitimacy of a journal or other publication; this can often be found through their home page. For an example, compare the journal Geophysical Research Letters with Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change.
2. Consult with UlrichsWeb (FAUNet ID required).
UlrichsWeb often provides the following information about a publication:
3. Check the journal title, if it is an open access journal, with a reputable open access organization or web page.
4. Ask around. Ask your colleagues where they publish or what they use, as well as the journals they thought were questionable. Librarians can also provide insight and information.
University of Manitoba Libraries (2018). Identifying predatory publishers [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/crDKooW_2kUBy
Padron, K. (2021). Deceptive or predatory publishers: What they are and how to evaluate them [Slides]. SlideShare. https://bit.ly/3c596qP