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Predatory Open Access Publishers: Home

This guide explains predatory open access publishing and offers authors tips for avoiding predatory publishers.

Mayo & Open Access Journal fees

Before publishing in an open access journal, consult with your department/division chair to ensure there are funds available to cover the open access fees and that the journal is published by a reputable publisher.

What is Predatory Open Access Publishing?

Predatory Open Access Publishing is the name given to a problem that has recently developed in academic publishing.  Some journals now allow authors to pay fees that cover publication costs. These articles can be made freely available to everyone on the internet.  This is known as "Open Access" publishing. There are many legitimate Open Access publishers and this process is well established.  The problem is that there are also many "predatory" publishers that will charge authors these publication fees and not provide any of the services that legitimate publishers provide, like editing and peer review management.  Predatory publishers primarily want to collect the publication fees. Once predatory publishers have collected  an author's money and article manuscript, little can be done to retrieve manuscripts and author fees from these non-scholarly publishers. This guide will help you identify and avoid predatory publishers for and their unfavorable practices.


Predatory Publishers in the News

The New York Times weighs in with Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals, published Oct. 30, 2017.

A study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine identifies 13 evidence-based characteristics by which potential predatory journals may be distinguished from presumed legitimate ones.
The 13 characteristics identified by researchers at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada include an

  • interest in publishing research on a larger number of topics than legitimate journals;
  • extremely low article processing charges (APCs) - below $150;
  • fuzzy, distorted or potentially unauthorized images on their websites (noted in 66% of potential predatory journals);
  • requests that articles be submitted by email - often to non-professional or non-academic email addresses- rather than via a submission system - and a lack of policies about retractions, corrections, errata, and plagiarism (more than half of legitimate journals had policies for all four).

The wide scope and low APCs may be a way for potential predatory journals to attract as many submissions as possible, the authors suggest. They caution that an APC below $150 for a biomedical journal -- while potentially attractive to uninformed authors or those with limited financial resources-- indicates that the journal may be predatory, as APCs of presumed legitimate journals tend to be 18 to 30 times higher. APCs cover peer review and editorial services that predatory publishers may not provide.
While the characteristics identified in this study may not be sensitive enough to detect all potentially predatory journals, the authors hope that their findings may be helpful to researchers in assessing a journal’s legitimacy and quality.

Subject Guide

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Anna Beth Morgan
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