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Occupational Therapy - Dallas

Occupational therapy research guide for TWU Dallas students, faculty and staff.

Predatory Publishers: and how to spot them.

Predatory Journals

Predatory journals—also called fraudulent, deceptive, or pseudo-journals—are publications that claim to be legitimate scholarly journals but misrepresent their publishing practices.

Publishing in a predatory journal can affect your professional reputation because your work is not likely to be cited thereby affecting your H-index score (an author metric that measures how well you are doing as an author). Publishing in a predatory journal can also make your research harder to find.

The goal of predatory publishers is to convince authors to pay an article processing charge (APC) while performing the least amount of work possible on the publisher’s side. This can include:

  • Not actually publishing accepted articles
  • Taking articles or journal websites offline without notice
  • Publishing submitted articles before authors have signed a publishing agreement.

Since many legitimate publishers will not accept previously published articles all your hard work and research is wasted. Some predatory journals will offer to sell back your intellectual property at an exorbitant price, but I would not recommend this practice as ethically they have already proven they cannot be trusted.

There is NO 100% guarantee or cast iron way of identifying a journal as being predatory or not. Predatory publishing is big business and many have become very adept at passing themselves off as genuine products. The best thing you can do is identify potential red flags and make an informed decision based on those. If in any doubt always err on the side of caution.


  • Receipt of an unsolicited email invitation to submit a paper, especially if it contains spelling, grammatical, typological errors or is unprofessional in its speech, e.g. hello tina or hey sweetie.
  • Is the peer review process clearly stated on the website.
  • Does the website clearly state the publishing fees.
  • The journal or publisher appears on Beall’s list of predatory publishers.
  • The journal or publisher does not appear on a reputable list such as DOAJ, Scopus, Ulrichs, Web of Science, ERA journal list, Google Scholar.
  • Title or Logo of the journal and/or publisher very closely resemble an existing respected journal (typically high impact).
  • Name of the journal does not reflect its origin (e.g. International journal of…but all the editors and papers are from Korea).
  • Does the contact phone number have the correct country code.
  • Publisher launches with a fleet of empty journals on a wide variety of every conceivable subject.
  • Editorial board is nonexistent or the same as all other journals by that publisher.
  • No official contact details of editor or editorial board on journal website (also beware gmail or similar editorial email addresses) most editors will work at a university and have a EDU email, you should also be able to go to that university and locate the editor on their website.
  • An article-processing fee is requested only after your paper has been accepted. Genuine journals will want paying regardless as it is their time and work.
  • Publishes all articles from authors willing to pay an APC (article processing charge) even if the article is low quality or unrelated to the journals topic.
  • Very short turn around between your peer review and publication (indicates a poor or fake peer review process).
  • Requires authors to sign away their copyright to the article at the time of submission, making it impossible for the author to submit the article to another publisher.
  • The physical address of the journal when pulled up on google maps leads to a post office box, some ones house, or an unrelated business.
  • The website and/or social media is unprofessional wit grainy or skewed pictures, kinks that are broken etc.


New journals struggle to show reputation. Check credentials of the editorial board and journal publisher to determine authenticity.

Free resources:

  • is a non profit website with a step by step guide to evaluating journal quality.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a non profit database containing a searchable list of high quality, peer reviewed, open access journals in all scholarly disciplines.
  • Stop Predatory Journals is a crowd-sourced project that provides lists of potentially predatory journals and publishers, however the administration is anonymous so it lacks transparency.