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Publishing Strategies (P&T)

Scholarly Communication: Publishing Strategies (P&T)

Predatory Journals


Predatory or Vanity Publishers

So-called predatory publishers are those that lack discernible scholarship, academic rigour or credibility. They use aggressive practices to recruit authors and editors. Predatory publishers’ opaque operations and editorial processed are suggestive of an intention to deceive both authors and readers (Butler, 2013).

Predatory Publisher Warning Signs

(Adapted from Butler’s checklist (2013) on evaluating publishers)

  • Use common sense, if something seems fishy, investigate more thoroughly.
  • Overly-flattering, unsolicited invitations to publish or become an editorial board member are suspicious.
  • Journals with geographically-based names that do not reflect origin (e.g. The Dutch Journal of ____ published in a different country or region of the world).
  • Journal claims having an Impact Factor, or some other ‘made-up’ quality label, but is not listed in Journal Citation Reports or Scopus.



  1. Predatory publishing practices can be found in conferences and conference proceedings. Be wary of open calls for submissions and selection panels of renowned experts when combined with no evidence of scholarly standards.
  2. It is important to remember that predatory, or vanity, publishers have been around long before the Open Access movement, or before anything was even published online (e.g. ‘vanity’ book presses) meaning there is no direct correlation between Open Access and these publishers; the Open Access movement is simply another, current platform for these publishers to gain a foothold.
  3. Defining what makes a high quality scholarly journal is much easier than defining what makes a predatory or vanity journal, therefore, a recent trend has been to focus on ‘whitelisting’ and not ‘blacklisting’.

How to Spot a Predatory Publisher

The Mitochondria vs. The Midi-chlorians


Be wary of lists of predatory publishers, as all publishers on the list may not, in fact, be predatory. For example, sometimes publishers from developing or non-North American countries are labeled as predatory unfairly simply due to less-than-perfect English or lack of Westernized names on the review board. Even major publishers have accidentally published ‘fake’ journals and published articles that went through ‘fake peer review’ (Grant, 2009, Oransky, 2015).