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Predatory Publishers: Questionable Journals

This guide provides information about questionable publishers and journals as well as resources for locating legitimate scholarly journals for research and publication.

What Are Predatory Publishers?

Predatory publishers are entities which produce open access journals that:

  • Prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship
  • Use false or misleading information
  • Deviate from best editorial and publication practices including rigorous peer review
  • Lack transparency
  • Use aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices
  • Exhibit a spectrum of behaviors that range from genuinely fraudulent with varying degrees of unacceptable practices including well-intentioned but low-quality standards

Grudniewicz A, Moher D, Cobey KD, et al. Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature. 2019;576(7786):210-212.
The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). Combatting predatory academic journals and conferences. 2022.

Why Care?

  • Content may be inaccurate and could adversely affect patient care decisions
  • Citing erodes the scientific body of literature
  • Your research is less likely to be cited and may not be permanently archived
  • The Mayo Clinic Academic Appointments and Promotions Committee recognizes neither publications nor editorial positions associated with questionable journals
  • It may be difficult and costly to withdraw 
  • There may be potential consequences for future grant funding

Locate Reputable Journals

Cabells Predatory Journal Reports

The Cabells Predatory Reports database provides a watchlist assessing over 60 behavioral indicators encompassing integrity, peer review, publication practices, indexing, metrics, fees, copyright, website features and business practices to determine journals that are likely problematic.

Use the search box to investigate an open access journal by title, ISSN, publisher name or discipline.

Watch for Multiple Signs

Scrutinize journal websites with more than one of these traits:

  • Very broad scope
  • False metrics and claims of indexing by scholarly databases (e.g. Embase, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science)
  • Odd grammar & spelling errors 
  • Unprofessional images of editorial board members
  • Dysfunctional links 
  • Homepage language targets authors rather than readers
  • Promise of quick publication turn-around time within a few weeks
  • Lack of information about research misconduct, licensing and copyright
  • Contact information is sketchy

Additional Resources