Tutorial 23: How to avoid giving your work to a “predatory open access publisher”

April 9, 2013

There’s an awful lot of talk about “predatory open access publishers” recently. So much talk that I can’t help wondering whether the phrase is being pushed by barrier-based publishers in another attempt to smear open access. (Hey, they have previous.)

Anyway, for anyone who is worried that they might be tricked into giving their work to one of these low-quality predatory publishers that accepts anything and only cares about the fee, here is my guide to avoiding this scenario.

So. Imagine you have an article ready to go, when you receive an invitation to submit it to a journal that you’ve never heard of before. How do you decide whether to send it to them?

Do not send it to them.

Problem solved.


21 Responses to “Tutorial 23: How to avoid giving your work to a “predatory open access publisher””

  1. Sheesh – some people imitate well-known journals. Very well — until they send you an invoice!

  2. So there should never be new journals ever again?

    Unless someone takes the plunge and submits to new journals, existing journals become even entrenched and have even less reason to change.

  3. “the phrase is being pushed by barrier-based publishers in another attempt to smear open access” is my impression too!

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    That doesn’t follow at all. PeerJ was new a few weeks ago, and I submitted to that. That’s because I’d heard of it, knew who was behind it, recognised names on the editorial board. But an unsolicited email out of the blue from a stranger? Who responds to those? It’s easy to fail safe.

  5. Mike, there was an article a few days ago – can’t find it on my cellphone right now – that had examples of journals that pretended to be prestigious journals. Good enough to get their articles Thomson&Reutered! With “editors” who did not know anything about their supposed jobs.

  6. How did you hear about PeerJ?

    While knowing people behind a journal or on the board is good, it’s may be that:

    a) You don’t know those people (science is big);
    b) Real peoples names are used without permission;
    c) Real people are, with the best of intentions, working on editorial boards of dodgy journals.

  7. mtb Says:

    I suppose asking colleagues and peers if they have heard of it could also work. Peer-reviewed peer-reviewed journals?

  8. Mike Taylor Says:

    Well, Zen, the thing to do is fail safe and use a journal that you are confident about.

    Honestly, who are these people who spend a year of their life researching and writing a paper, then won’t spend half an hour to find out about the journal they’re considering?

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    That is a disturbing new twist, Heinrich.

    And yet, not so hard to avoid. Honestly, it is not that hard to find the true website of any remotely established journal.

  10. as the article reports, there’s journals that don’t have one. I’ve come across such journals, too, during the last year. And then it gets really really hard to spot a well-executed fake.

  11. Mike Taylor Says:

    These are serious, reputable journals that don’t have web-sites? In 2013?

  12. apparently! I do not remember which journal it was, but a palaeo journal that triggered me thinking “oh, that, yes – what has become of it, nobody publishes there anymore, it used to be a big thing” had no website last year!

  13. “These are serious, reputable journals that don’t have web-sites? In 2013?”. Yes, that was the case for Wulfenia (Austrian botany journal) when they had their identity stolen last year by Armenian criminals. I blogged about it: http://journalology.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/will-real-wulfenia-journal-please-stand.html. This was one of the journals featured in that recent Nature story.

  14. Heteromeles Says:

    While I agree that scam-sites should be avoided, I wanted to add this link from the “In the Pipeline” chemistry blog, about how much traditional journals profit from each article.


    For comparison, fiction publishers seem to net <5% of gross income for the average novel.

    There are predators, and there are predators.

  15. This is fascinating information. I am a Humanities/English professor with an idea for an Open Access Journal, a sincere one, mind you, and it is very good to read all of this information. Thank you, Mike.

    I do want to ask a question: if scholars and academics are on the lookout for scam publishing, how then does someone like me (with a dozen or so conference presentations, and a publication or two to my resume) solicit authors or editors? I hope that this is not too foolish a question, and that you may be able to provide a few websites besides the OASPA (thank you for that), the DOAJ, or SPARC.

    Thanks for your help.

  16. Mike Taylor Says:

    Hi, eatingthepages, thanks for getting in touch. Others will be able to offer more informed comment than I can, but I’d have thought your best bet is to deal with people who already know you and are familiar with your work. If you can persuade some of the better known among your colleagues to lend their names to the editorial board, and to validate those positions by publishing papers in the journal, then you’re well on the way to establishing a reputation for your journal. For example, if I were trying to start an OA palaeontology journal (which I won’t, as there are already some good options) I might try to persuade people like Paul Barrett and John Hutchinson to be involved.

  17. […] for those worried about predatory publishers, I believe Mike Taylor said it best, with something along the lines of: scientists aren’t stupid; we know good venues, we know how to […]

  18. neha Says:

    Can anyone suggest me a genuine Open Access journal on VLSI where I can publish a research paper..??

  19. Mike Taylor Says:

    I know nothing about VLSI, but I know that PLOS ONE and PeerJ, which publish research in all areas of science, are both excellent journals.

  20. neha Says:

    OK.. Thanks a lot..

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