Predatory journals

What is predatory publishing?

Predatory publishing, sometimes called write-only publishing or deceptive publishing, is an exploitive academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without checking articles for quality and legitimacy and without providing the other editorial and publishing services that legitimate academic journals provide, whether open access or not. They are regarded as predatory because scholars are tricked into publishing with them, although some authors may be aware that the journal is poor quality or even fraudulent.

In addition, many sham publishers have expanded their business to predatory conferences. Predatory conferences may appear at first glance scientifically credible, but usually more thorough investigation reveals the problems associated with them. They are organized by companies rather than scientific societies; they charge hefty participation fees from the participants, and the number of participants and the scientific quality of presentations is low.

New scholars from developing countries are said to be especially at risk of being misled by predatory publishers (Kearney, 2015; Xia et al., 2015). According to one study, 60% of articles published in predatory journals receive no citations over the five-year period following publication (Björk et al., 2020; Brainard, 2020). Read more about Predatory publishing.

The definition

Leading scholars and publishers from ten countries have agreed a definition of predatory publishing that can protect scholarship. It took 12 hours of discussion, 18 questions and 3 rounds to reach. […]

The consensus definition reached was: “Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.”

Grudniewicz, A. & al. (2019). Predatory journals: No definition, no defence. Nature (London), 576(7786), 210–212.

How to deal with predatory publishers?

When choosing a publishing channel, beware of these dishonest predatory OA publishers. Such journal titles have been gathered on the Beall’s List (last updated: 2016), which, however, is not being updated at the moment. The list contains potential or plausible scientifically questionable OA journals that often neglect peer-reviewing and mainly aim to cash in from scientists.

At UEF, Cabells Predatory Reports can be used for checking potential predatory journals. Check your own institution’s library for access.

Read UEF Library’s blog post: Beware of predators!

Visit Think Check Submit (Fig. 7) where you will find tips about how to publish in a suitable journal and how to avoid predatory journals. To avoid predatory conferences, please visit Think Check Attend.

Think. Check. Submit. logo
Fig. 7. ‘Think. Check. Submit’ checklist helps you to assess reliable journals. CC BY Think. Check. Submit. via Wikimedia Commons.

Are you still thinking that there is no problem with predators? Check the following assertions:

  • I do not care about my external reputation.
  • I do not believe in myself or my work.
  • Publication numbers count most.
  • I cannot be bothered to read.
  • I have given up.

If you agree any of the claims above, consider reading the paper by Clark & Thompson (2017) entitled Five (bad) reasons to publish your research in predatory journals. You might change your mind.


  • Avoid predatory journals by utilising services like Think. Check. Submit., Cabells Predatory Reports and Beall’s list.
  • Discuss openly with your colleagues about reliable OA publishers.

(8/2023 KH)

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