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Predatory Publishing: Common Signs

This guide was created to help researchers to be aware of predatory publishers.

Common signs of predatory publishers

Red flags:

Predatory publishers have many known characteristics and signs.

Watch for the following common signs to spot a predatory publisher. Assess the quality of the invitation before you reply.

Use of spam emails or flattering emails to solicit articles or direct email request to submit an article:

  • In common, journal do not ask for journal articles
  • Email may have typo errors and grammatical mistakes which is unusual

Journal title may be similar to the reputable journals:

  • The title may look familiar to you as they resemble some reputable journals or publishers

Journal's Website:

  • Poor layout and design
  • No contact us or misleading location of the publisher:
  • False information about location/affiliations/editorial board members
  • Broad subject scope
  • Missing standards (DOI, ISSNs)
  • If an impact factor given is it correct?(DOI, ISSNs)
  • No instructions for authors listed
  • No published article available on the website
  • Claims to have high impact factor or fake impact factor
  • May be a new business. Launching many journals at a time

Peer review process:

  • The journal ‘s peer review process or type of peer review is not described or not followed
  • Fake peer review process

Article Processing Fee (APC):

  • Charges may not be clearly stated in the website or the email
  • The charges are hidden until you accept to pay


  • Promise of fast peer review and publication
  • Lack of transparency about author fees (Article Processing Fee), location
  • No realistic time frame


  • Publisher's practices and policies are not openly available
  • They publish on a wide range of topics

Author rights:

  • Author rights is not clearly explained
  • If Open access, do they have Creative Commons license?

Editorial Board:

  • Listing of fake editorial members

The archived document by Jeffrey Beall consists of criterias which could be used to identify predatory publishers.

Additional tips:

Have received an email to publish your article for a small fee?

  • There are many tools available.Use any of the tools to check for authority.
  • Ask around your colleagues if they are familiar with the journal/publisher.
  • Find out what journals are in your subject to avoid predatory journals.
  • Look at previously published scholarly outputs to assess quality
  • Ask why if any information is not available or accessible?
  • Decide based on your professional judgement

Useful links

How to spot predatory publishers?

Practices and characteristics of predatory publishers

Monica Berger’s 2017 ACRL conference paper titled ‘Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Predatory Publishing but Were Afraid to Ask’ (Berger, 2017)  has some of typical practices and detailed characteristics of predatory publishers.