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Biomedical Publishing

About Predatory Publishing

What is predatory publishing?

Many researchers have had the experience of receiving an email soliciting the submission of their work to a journal. Some of these requests are from legitimate journals, perhaps those that are newly established or trying to increase their impact score and are thus soliciting high quality work. Others are from what we call "predatory publishers". These are publications that charge and make money from authors' fees, but are known to be disreputable, not engage in peer review, and are not accepted by the field.

What happens if I submit my work to a predatory journal?

Your work will be published. It is just not going to be easily found by other researchers, hindering its reach, and will be considered less reputable if published in a known predatory journal. Most publications will not accept an article that was previously accepted by a predatory journal.

Avoiding Predatory Publications

If you receive an email soliciting an article for publication or are considering a journal with which you are unfamiliar, here are some things to consider:

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal? The point of publishing is dissemination; if others in your field don't know the journal they are unlikely to find your work.
  • Is the journal indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, MEDLINE, or another database that is used in your field? The DOAJ is considered one of the major authorities for vetting open access publications, and MEDLINE indexes open access publications as well. If the journal is indexed in one of these places, or within a database that you use frequently, it is both likely to be legitimate and likely to ensure greater dissemination of your work because it will be findable.
  • Is the journal transparent about its author fees and review process? Legitimate journals will tell you upfront what their author fees are, and rarely negotiate them. It should also be clear on the journal's website that articles undergo peer review and what that process looks like.
  • Consult the Think, Check, Submit checklist. This is a thorough list and a great tool for thinking through all of the things you should take into consideration before submitting a publication.

Researcher Reputation Beyond Publishing

In addition to contact about publishing your work, researchers should also carefully vet requests to:

  • Serve on or be listed as a member of a journal's editorial board
  • Serve as a peer reviewer
  • Present at conferences that you have not heard of or are outside your research scope

Researchers should investigate these types of requests using the same tips above.