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Open Access (OA) publishing is a publishing model where non-subscription-based journals charge a fee to authors or institutions to publish their material and make it immediately available to the public. Many of these publishers are legitimate, many with excellent journal impact metrics. However, with the rise in OA publishing, there has been an increase in predatory publishers who abuse the open access author-pays model for their own profit. This is a fast growing industry and can cause problems for academics by (among other things) permanently damaging their reputations!
- Be wary if you receive an email soliciting your participation in authoring or editing a new journal and take a moment to look deeper by following some or all of these guidelines.
- Contact one of the Librarians in the Carpenter Library. Some of us have had recent training in identifying these scams and can usually give you a recommendation within a short period of time
When evaluating scholarly journals, try to find as many of these positive indicators as possible.
- Scope of the journal is well-defined and clearly stated
- Journal’s primary audience is researchers/practitioners
- Editor, editorial board are recognized experts in the field
- Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by an established scholarly society or academic institution
- Articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
- Any fees or charges for publishing in the journal are easily found on the journal web site and clearly explained
- Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g., doi:10.1111/j.1742-9544.2011.00054.x)
- Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content at article level (e.g., Creative Commons CC BY license)
- Journal has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g., 1234-5678)
- Publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
- Journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals
- Journal is a member of Committee on Publication Ethics
- Journal is included in subject databases and/or indexes, such as PubMed, Web of Science, PsychInfo, etc.
A note about PubMed journals. Some predatory journals may show up in PubMed due to Public Access policies but are not INDEXED by PubMed. To find journals 'indexed' in PubMed, go here. Search the title and look under Current indexing status (example below). Contact the Library for assistance.
Here are some definite red flags to consider.
- Journal web site is difficult to locate or identify
- Publisher “About” information is absent on the journal’s web site
- Publisher direct marketing (i.e., spamming) or other advertising is obtrusive
- Instructions to authors information is not available
- Information on peer review and copyright is absent or unclear on the journal web site
- Journal scope statement is absent or extremely vague
- No information is provided about the publisher, or the information provided does not clearly indicate a relationship to a mission to disseminate research content
- Repeat lead authors in same issue
- Publisher has a negative reputation (e.g., documented examples in Chronicle of Higher Education, list-servs, etc.)
- Be wary of similar journal titles. Example: Obstetrics & Gynecology (a long standing well know journal from Lippincott Williams and Wilkins) and Gynecology & Obstetrics from OMICS (a large publisher, widely regarded as predatory).
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