How to avoid predatory journals: Think, check, submit

Think. Check. Submit. is a new campaign to equip researchers with the means to check the credentials of an OA journal and avoid submitting their work to so-called “predatory open access” journals (a phrase first coined by librarian and OA researcher Jeffery Beall).

Open-access (OA) publishing has become a popular way for academics to disseminate their work. However, a publishing model where the author(s) submit an electronic document then pay up-front for online distribution has led to the rise of sham operations that masquerade as legitimate open-access publishers. These publisher do not provide the rigorous peer-review and editing that is the hallmark of scholarly publishing: once the author has paid the article processing charge, the paper is accepted with no review and published online with no true editorial input.

To be successful, a predatory journal must maintain the appearance of a true scholarly journal. They may use scholarly sounding titles, list a “distinguished” editorial board (the members of which may be entirely fictional), and claim to have a variety of “impact factors” indicating their high standing in the scholarly world. Unwary authors, particularly those just beginning to publish, or those from developing countries, can be fooled into believing these journals are real.

DeLib encourages authors to critically assess online scholarly journals, particularly those with which they are not familiar. Think. Check. Submit. provides an excellent checklist of questions that authors can ask to verify the legitimacy of an online journal. Examples include: Have your colleagues heard of it? Can you confirm that the editorial board is real? What are the details of the peer-review process used? Will your paper really be indexed in major scholarly databases?

Adopting a critical approach to OA journals will help you to find worthwhile venues to publish your work. It will also help ensure the credibility of scholarly publishing in general.

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