Report Animal Concerns

Predatory Journals: What Researchers Need to Know

By Sara M. Samuel, Informationist, Taubman Health Sciences Library

Compared to more reputable scientific publications, fraudulent or predatory journals exist solely to profit from researchers’ desire to get their work published. These journals often use email solicitations to invite researchers to join the editorial board or submit their work.

Publishing in, or joining the editorial board of, a predatory journal may damage your professional reputation, waste money in author processing charges, and could further erode the public’s trust in science.

What can you do to make sure that you are not being taken advantage of by a predatory journal? First, it’s important to understand what a predatory journal is.

While there isn’t one all-encompassing definition, here are some common characteristics of a predatory journal:

  • Lacks quality peer review
  • Limited or no editorial services
  • Little or no quality control in article selection process
  • Exploits open access models for financial gain

This last characteristic points to a common misunderstanding about Open Access models. Just because a journal charges a fee to publish your work with open access, it doesn’t mean that the journal is predatory. The website Think. Check. Submit. (thinkchecksubmit.org) is a great resource for determining if a journal is legitimate.

In addition to reviewing the journal’s website for obvious spelling or grammatical errors, here are a few things to consider prior to submitting to a journal or agreeing to join the editorial board:

  • Did you learn about the journal through an email solicitation from an unknown party?
  • Have any of your colleagues or peers heard of, or published in, the journal?
  • Does the journal provide detailed information about their peer review process?
  • Have you read articles from the journal that were discovered in databases you commonly use?
  • Do you recognize anyone on the editorial board? If so, do they acknowledge this editorial role on their personal website or other profiles?
  • Does an internet search for the publisher or the journal title reveal any public comments or concerns regarding predatory practices?

Additional Assistance

For help with determining the best journal to publish in, please reach out to the Taubman Health Sciences Library at thlibrary@umich.edu. We’re happy to help!

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