Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers

Today I am publishing a list of the criteria I use for determining predatory open-access publishers. The document is available as a PDF at the link below, and the blog post contains the full-text of the criteria. Thank you to OASPA, COPE, and STM for their leadership in establishing scholarly publishing industry standards.

Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers [PDF]

Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers

By Jeffrey Beall    August 4, 2012

1. Analyze the publisher’s content, practices, and websites according to established ethical standards.

A. Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) Code of Conduct

B. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers [PDF]

C. International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) Code of Conduct

2. Analyze the publisher’s content, practices, and websites, contact the publisher if necessary, read statements from the publisher’s authors about their experiences with the publisher, and determine whether the publisher commits any of the following that are known to be committed by predatory publishers.

A. Publish papers already published in other venues

B. Publish papers that contain plagiarism

C. Copy “authors guidelines” verbatim (or with minor editing) from other publishers

D. List false or insufficient contact information, including contact information that does not clearly state the headquarters location or misrepresents the headquarters location (e.g. through the use of addresses that are actually mail drops)

E. Publish journals that are excessively broad (e.g., Journal of Education) in order to attract more articles and gain more revenue from author fees

F. Publish journals that combine two or more fields not normally treated together (e.g. International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology)

G. Enlist members of editorial boards that are not experts in the field; have an insufficient number of board members; have made-up editorial boards (made up names); include scholars on an editorial board without their knowledge or permission; have board members who are prominent researchers but exempt them from any contributions to the journal except the use of their names and photographs; provide insufficient contact/affiliation information about board members (e.g., M. Khan, Pakistan).

H. Require transfer of copyright and retain copyright on journal content. Require the copyright transfer upon submission of manuscript.

I. Fail to state license information on articles or does not seem to understand journal article licensing standards.

J. Have poorly maintained websites, including dead links, prominent misspelling and grammatical errors on the website.

K. Use language claiming to be a “leading publisher” even though the publisher is a startup or no one has ever heard of it before.

L. Make unauthorized use of licensed images on their website, taken from the open web, without permission or licensing from the copyright owners

M. Use spam email to solicit manuscripts or editorial board memberships

N. Demonstrate a lack of transparency in its operations

O. Have no membership in industry associations and does not follow industry standards

P. Engages in acts of deception

Q. Set up shop in a first-world country chiefly for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country

R. Begin operations with a large fleet of journals, often using a template to quickly create each journal’s home page

S. Lack a published article retraction policy or retract articles without a formal statement; also the publisher does not publish corrections or clarifications and doesn’t have a policy for these

T. Claim to have a peer review but does not

U. Do not use ISSN numbers, DOI numbers or use them improperly or makes them up.

V. Do not identify who is the owner or chief operating officer of the operation or do not identify other officers of the operation

W. Use email addresses that end in .gmail.com, yahoo.com, or uses some other free email supplier

X. The “contact” us page only lists a webform

Y. Do minimal or no copyediting

Z. Copy journal titles from other publishers

AA. Use text on the publisher’s main page that describes the open access movement and then place the publisher in the context of fulfilling the movement’s goals

BB. Use strange names to attempt to draw attention to the publisher (e.g. Wudpecker Journals)

CC. Provide links to legitimate conferences and associations on the publisher’s main website in order to steal some of the organizations’ legitimacy and paint the publisher with it.

DD. Have duplicate editorial boards (i.e. same editorial board for more than one journal)

EE. For the name of the publisher, use names like “Network,” “Center,” “Association,” “Institute,” etc. when it is only a publisher and does not meet the definition of the term used.

FF. Falsely claim to have the publisher’s content indexed in legitimate abstracting and indexing services

GG. Have excessive advertising on the publisher’s site to the extent that it interferes with site navigation and content access

HH. Have no policies or practices that relate to digital preservation

II. Publish papers that are pseudo-science

JJ. Provide insufficient information or hide information about author fees and then publish an author’s paper and then send the author an invoice

KK. Misrepresent the true country of publication in the publisher’s name (e.g. Canadian Center of Science and Education)

LL. Falsely claim to have an impact factor, or use some made up measure (e.g. view factor) to make it look like the publisher’s articles have international standing

MM. Have links like “Privacy policy” or “Terms of use” that don’t really link to anything

NN. Display prominent statements that promise rapid publication, quick review, etc.

OO. Have a contact address that turns out to be somebody’s apartment

PP. Focus on authors (not readers) and on getting their fees at the expense of readers, and offers few or no value adds to readers such as RSS feeds, hotlinked references, etc.

QQ. When an author submits a paper, the publisher asks the corresponding author for suggested reviewers. Then the publisher uses the suggested reviewers without sufficiently checking their qualifications. This allows authors to create fake online identities and review their own papers.

RR. The publisher or its journals are not listed in standard periodical directories or are not cataloged in library databases

SS. The publisher is set up and run by a single man who is very entrepreneurial; the man may have business administration experience, and the site has business journals but it also has journals that are outside the experience of the entrepreneur or anyone on his staff

TT. For life sciences journals that report on research involving human or animal subjects, the publisher does not have any code of ethics regarding the research with these subjects

UU. Do not require authors to declare that they have no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of their papers

VV. Send spam requests for peer reviews to scholars unqualified to review the paper in question.

47 Responses to Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers

  1. Dear Jeffrey, I greatly appreciate that you maintain the long and growing list of predatory open-access publishers, and I applaud your attempt to make the criteria that you use more transparent. However, whereas many of your criteria are clearly good, I feel I must point out that some of them are less than ideal:

    Points A and B relate to republication and plagiarism. These are acts of scientific misconduct, which a journal can with some right blame on the authors.

    Assuming that point C does not violate copyright, I do not see why every publisher needs to reinvent the wheel by making their own guidelines.

    Point E is concerned with “overly broad” journals – I am sure you are aware that this criterion would also match journals like Nature and Science, not to mention PLOS ONE that covers all medical and scientific research.

    Whereas I certainly agree that point H goes against the spirit and definition of open access, I note that the journal Molecular Systems Biology from NPG would be a predatory journal by this definition.

    Regarding point H, it is unclear which level of transparency you expect. If you look back at the Warda and Han affair in Proteomics a couple of years back, Wiley most certainly demostrated a lack of transparency in its operations.

    In my experience only top-tier journals do much copy editing. I would thus not say that minimal copy editing is a sign of predatory publishing (point Y). The recent “insert statistical method here” mistake by BMC Systems Biology illustrates this point.

    Criterion EE would match the Public Library Of Science (PLOS), as it does not meet the definition of a library.

    When it comes to uncritically using reviewers suggested by the authors (criterion QQ), publishers can quite rightly blame their academic editors as they are responsible for selecting appropriate reviewers for the manuscripts they handle.

    I hope you read this as the constructive criticism it is intended to be. A list of criteria for what characterizes a predatory open-access publisher would be great to have, and I hope my input can be a help in that direction!

    • Lars, thanks for these helpful comments. Perhaps I should add that the predatory publishers consistently engage in these practices, rather than rarely, as you observe in the traditional publishers. Also, The criteria are supposed to apply to open-access publishers, so journals like Nature and Science, which are not open access, would have a completely different set of criteria. Overally, I assign more responsibility to publishers than you do, I think. I don’t think a publisher can say “It’s the editor’s fault” and be freed from responsibility for unethical practices.

      Hmm, where are you seeing the poor copy-editing? Is a decline in quality copy-editing a desireable outcome?

      I agree that my criteria are not perfect; judging predatory publishers is difficult because they continuously attempt to deceive, and they hide as much of their operations as possible.

      • I completely agree that it is difficult to set down a clear set of criteria – there will always be some non-predatory journals that match some of the criteria. But maybe you’d be able to make a shortened list (some of the criteria are rather similar / specializations of each other) where predatory journals match more than half or something like that. Just an idea.

        Regarding sloppy copy editing, Neil Saunders found a great example recently: http://nsaunders.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/we-really-dont-care-what-statistical-method-you-used/

      • Sammy Pitoy says:

        thanks Jeffrey for the information about criteria for determining predatory publishers.
        I just notice something between these two journals: the Global Journals, Inc. (U.S. and the Global Research Journal. are they the same? why is it that when I open the Global Journals, Inc. (U.S.) as one of the lists of the predator Journals, what comes out is the Global Research Journal..

        You included Global Journals Inc. as one of the predator journal. what will happen to the article I submitted to them which they accepted for publication, could I submit it to another publication now I know that according to you, Global Journal Inc is a predator publisher. thank you…

  2. dsolomonmsuedu says:

    Dear Mr. Beall,

    I am glad you are delineating your criteria however as Lars Juhl Jensen noted they need some work unless of course your believe Science and Nature (overly broad journals?) are predatory.

    “PP. Focus on authors (not readers) and on getting their fees at the expense of readers, and offers few or no value adds to readers such as RSS feeds, hotlinked references, etc.”

    This is a criteria someone could actually apply?

    I could go on but neither have the time nor interest.

    I think you have make your point but it is either time to do something constructive or quit this nonsense.

    David Solomon
    dsolomon@msu.edu

    • What nonsense are you talking about, David? Please refer to the entirety of the criterion I wrote, not just part of it:

      “Publish journals that are excessively broad (e.g., Journal of Education) in order to attract more articles and
      gain more revenue from author fees.”

      Yes, Science and Nature (and others) are very broad, but their goal is not to attract author fees. For traditional journals, a broad coverage can actually be a benefit (to the reader). Many predatory publishers accept anything just to get the author fee, resulting in desultory content.

  3. dsolomonmsuedu says:

    Jefferey,

    I don’t disagree there are many poor quality publishers, some sleazy and just out to make quick money some seem more clueless than anything else. I also feel it has been helpful to bring some attention to the issue.

    What irks me is that in my view you seem to be very cavalier about using an ugly term like predatory. There are publishers who deserve it but I think you aught to be a lot more careful about using it.

    A good example is calling ISRN predatory for having the term “network” in the series name. I am not sure of this is the case but I think it may have to do with the large editorial boards of the journals or “networks” of researchers they use to streamline the review process. You may not agree with the use of the term but it seems a pretty trivial and inappropriate reason to call a series of journals predatory that have real peer review, assign DOI’s, do proper archiving other things legitimate professional publishers do.

    I did look at your criteria as a whole. Some of them make sense and some like the one I pointed out above just seem like ranting or in some cases almost laughable, “Have a contact address that turns out to be somebody’s apartment”. That may be a good example but not a published criteria for determining whether a journal/publisher is predatory. Try something along the lines of having a verifiable business address and phone number.

    That’s what I mean by nonsense. Maybe not the best term, and if so, I apologize but hopefully you get my point.

    In my view a list of poor quality publishers isn’t very helpful beyond publicizing the problem. Certifying legitimate publishers based on a clear, objective, and verifiable set of standards developed by a broad range of stakeholders is far more effective particularly if funding agencies start requiring publishers to be certified before they will pay APCs to the publisher. That is what we should be working to address this problem.

  4. [...] waging campaign for Obama libraryWhere are the code examples that accompany the books?Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access PublishersWikipedia and [...]

  5. mikebehm says:

    I appreciate Jeffrey making his criteria available on the blog. Each discipline, scholar, department, college, etc. will need to develop their own criteria and guidance for judging the worth of an individual journal and publisher; this blog is tremendously valuable for helping individuals engage in a productive discussion to make their own decisions. Each of Jeffrey’s points would not be taken individually as an indicator that a journal or publisher is of low quality. He is simply pointing out characteristics that he has documented in his own research of predatory and low-quality journals/publishers. The list should be viewed collectively when evaluating publication outlets. The criteria he provides should make individuals pause and think about ethics and quality in their own discipline. This blog does just that for me and is so very important – thank you.

  6. I have put a poll up on my blog for the best #hashtag we can go forward with to tweet about predators while we are hunting.

    http://openbiomed.info/2012/08/time-for-a-predatory-open-access-hash-tag-please-vote/

  7. Flyhigh says:

    Mr Beall, just a friendly advice. It’s time to stop this kind of silly, low quality predatory “research” and more importantly stop humiliating yourself in public line this. Hope you take this as a friendly and constructive suggestion. Trust me, you need more knowledge and education for doing things that you are doing. It may make more sense to use your excessive time going out with your camera to take more beautiful colarado landscape photos for sharing with those real real, hard-working and knowledgeable scholars. The sincere advice from one of your silent friends:)

  8. KB says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    I appreciate your contributions to the vexing problem of how academics, and librarians, can meaningful distinguish among publishers and journals. As the number of Open Access publications continue to explode, these are precisely the types of discussions we need to be having.

    My question is a practical one: have you applied your criteria to a universe of OA publishers, or at least to a large subset, in order to start making these distinctions? I find most trail off in naming “good” publishers after they finish listing usual suspects like PLoS and BioMed Central. To further ground this conversation, it would be great to see your views on which OA publishers are reputable (along with those that are not, as you’ve listed in previous blog posts).

    Keep up the good work, thanks.

    • Yes. I maintain a private “watchlist” of borderline publishers. I keep it private because when I exposed it on my website in the past it had the effect of grouping them in with the predatory publishers, effectively classing the borderline ones as predatory when they necessarilly weren’t.

      Regarding listing the top-tier open-access publishers, I don’t do that because it’s already been done very well by others. For example, this list compiled by the University of California Berkeley Libraries is quite well done: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/scholarlycommunication/oa_fees.html Thanks.

  9. Marc Couture says:

    I think what you have done is quite relevant and useful. But, as some have suggested, there is something a little bit too raw in your list of 40+ criteria, some of them sufficient by themselves to disqualify a journal altogether (“Claim to have a peer review but does not”) while others would apply also to serious journals (and I don’t mean the likes of Nature, but small journals with limited resources).

    This is not a problem if the list is envisioned, like some have suggested, as a guide to help people judge if a journal is worth reading, or using as a publishing venue. Everyone then knows what to look for, and can make his or her decision as to the relative importance of each criterion.

    But it is a problem when these criteria are used to create a prominently displayed list of “predatory” publishers, which earn that strong qualification as a result of a highly subjective process involving such disparate criteria. At least, it would be more appropriate to use a term like “dubious”, because it is true that a “yes” to any, of a few of these criteria raises suspicion.

  10. Paul A. Thompson says:

    Dr Beall: Excellent stuff. I find your thoughts to be quite cogent on this issue.

    Here is the question: We can all have a “theoretical” appreciation of the marginal publications. What is needed for the user is a list of journals which do not enhance the CV. When you are looking to submit, which journals are NEGATIVE IMPACT FACTORS? Probably that is what is needed, a list of journals with NEGATIVE IMPACTS, which actually harm your CV.

  11. I greatly appreciate this blog, and I am astounded at the people criticizing it. The arrival of open access (sic) publishing has created a mess of garbage such that one can no longer cite all papers whose titles seem relevant without arbitrarily omitting those one doesn’t trust. I personally get calls to submit papers every week, requests to review, edit or be editorinchief once a month, including one with a head office in NY but corresponding from Cairo.
    The name open access is a misnomer- access to read may be free
    but only the rich can submit papers.
    Dr. Beall, keep up the good work- we need you.
    Elaine Newman

  12. Eric Blalock says:

    Hi,
    Just read your article in The Scientist, which lead me here and I wanted to relay my own brush with ickiness.

    As a relatively young (in my research career) researcher going up for tenure, I was desperate to have some kudos in my professional record. I received an email from a publisher inviting me to the editorial board. I agreed and greedily added a bullet point to my CV. A couple of weeks later, a randomly generated article famously made headlines for having been ‘peer reviewed’ and published by this same publisher.

    ‘Eek’! I thought, and fired an email to the publisher…

    “Dear [ ],
    Effective immediately, I am stepping down from the editorial advisory board of The Open Longevity Science Journal. Please remove my name from the list of editorial advisory board members.
    Eric Blalock”

    Their reply
    “Dear Dr. Blalock

    I have received your email. Why do you want to resign from the editorial board of [ ]? I want to inform you that it would be great pleasure for us if you remain as editorial board member of this journal even if you don’t make any commitments. So, kindly let me know your final decision in this regard.

    Sincerely,
    [ ]”

    -So, I can stay on the editorial board, even if I don’t DO anything? That’s nature’s way of saying ‘do not touch’. Besides, how much longer am I going to be working in science? I have a Nigerian prince on the hook for a couple of million dollars and then I can retire!

    My reply …
    “Dear Mr. [ ],

    My final decision is that I have resigned from the editorial board of Open Longevity Science

    And they finally agreed and removed my name.

    So, your list is overlong, redundant in some places, and maybe a little snarky, but that’s also what makes it interesting to read. I would suggest condensing by putting things into subject categories- for instance, one category could be ‘editorial board’- and offenses could be ‘fictional members’, members unaware of their membership’, poor-to-no contact info'; another could be ‘website design’, etc. Then group those issues into ‘major offense’ (any one of which would constitute sufficient evidence to claim a publisher is predatory) and ‘minor offense’ (meaning that multiple of these would be necessary to claim predation, and that they might be sincere and reparable mistakes rather than subterfuge).

    Thanks for your efforts!

  13. Clarinda Cerejo says:

    Dear Mr. Beall,

    This is an extremely interesting and useful post. I appreciate the time and effort you have spent listing all the things to look out for. Clearly, not all criteria will apply all the time, but having read this, I can definitely say I’ll be more watchful.

    Incidentally, shortly after I read this post, I stumbled upon UNAIS (http://un-a-i-s.ch/) and sensed alarm bells on browsing the site. The purpose of this journal is to publish papers that have been rejected, and this seems outrageous in principle itself.

    It claims to be a “new journal” and does not list any clear instructions for author contributions. Neither does it have any contact information displayed; there’s only a “contact form” that requests your details. Sure makes me want to tread with caution.

    I was wondering if you, or any of the readers here, have come across this journal or have views about it.

    • Clarinda,

      No, I had not heard of this publisher/journal. Thanks for letting me know about it. I bet it will be home to lots of pesudo-science. I will continue to investigate it.

      Thanks again,

      Jeffrey Beall

  14. Murphy Choy says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    I just noticed that Versita Open has been dropped from your watchlist. Are there any reasons why?

    Regards,
    Murphy

    • Actually, I don’t have a watchlist anymore, just a list. Versita Open was bought by de Gruyter, a German publisher. I think they are making many worthy improvements to Versita, and it is not on my list. Thanks.

  15. [...] Jarosław Stolarski drew my attention to an article on the Nature News blog by Jeffrey Beall: Predatory publishers are corrupting open access. I’d not seen that specific article, but the issue of “predatory open access publishers” is well known — in fact, Bell himself maintains an excellent list of such publishers and a helpful set of criteria for recognising them. [...]

  16. Raj Kumar Arya says:

    Dear Evereyone,
    I have just started my career after completing Ph.D. It is nice discussion and will help a lot for those who want quality publications. But there are so many persons who just need numbers. Is it possible to update list of bogus publishers or journals so that anyone can quickly get it?
    I think all the journals list by Thomsons are geniune. I think journal listed on: http://www.scimagojr.com , are geniune. There are some journals recently started by many universities like university of Bangladesh, Gaza etc. Shall we send our papers for them?

  17. Please forgive me, I will say, it is short fall of availability of publishers at the disposal of Authors, secondly, too much of stricture, a lot of standards, I my self have about eight papers with me, yet, i could not do justice to my self, till this day, the size, the grammar, the references, the matter, by the time, it is read by the Editors, so called better judges, we have lost our patients or subject areas to some one else who just picks it up.
    what is my experience, I feel, one should give it to a repute publisher unconditionally that he will also give it to others, who ever publishes it first, it is his right to allow every one to publish.
    There are many authors writing many things,
    1. Follow the book publishing trade, besides copy cats, the Distributors in India are simply publishing Jacket with price tag and then they Publish the book as new edition with date of publication 2013. (I have two documents in my library bought in August which has publication date 2013)
    2. The edited books, under a smart title
    3. Books published without publishers data
    5. Computer compiled books which are copied from best of the sources.
    However, Honourable .sir should give us list of good publishers who could do justice to up coming writers.

    http://www.cescollegeofartsandcommercelibrary.yolasite.com

    I cannot efford to pay for the site and therefore it is maintained on this free hoisting site, it is a boost for me. You visit the site, if you find any fake, kindly let me know as I link it in good faith for the students to read it for their studies.

    • Your site is very extensive, and I am sorry, I don’t have the time to go through it all and edit it. You can use my list as a resource for identifying the questionable publishers. Good luck.

  18. [...] Additionally awareness needs to be raised with researchers about what are becoming known as ‘predatory‘ open access publishers, the advice of knowledgeable repository staff is going to prove [...]

  19. imran says:

    Dear Dr. Beall, kindly suggest the action to be taken by an author who unknowingly submitted paper and got published in fake journals or fraud ones and to all such papaers which have been published in the type of journals

  20. [...] Di dalam website tersebut juga terdapat artikel yang perlu kita cermati, berjudul Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. [...]

  21. [...] Di dalam website tersebut juga terdapat artikel yang perlu kita cermati, berjudul Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. [...]

  22. [...] Di dalam website tersebut juga terdapat artikel yang perlu kita cermati, berjudul Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. [...]

  23. [...] abal-abal.detected), arsipnya dikit amat .., kriteria lain juga memenuhi (full kriteria klik di sini (1) dan di situ [...]

  24. [...] Di dalam website tersebut juga terdapat artikel yang perlu kita cermati, berjudul Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. [...]

  25. […] But as a matter of principle I never respond to “academic spam”. Messages sent as bulk mailings to a broad group of potential authors are at best impolite, and at worst actively damage the reputation of the journal and its publisher — see point M on Jefffey Beall’s Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. […]

  26. Felipe G. Nievinski says:

    The list has 48 items, from A to VV. How many does it take to be called predatory — 1, 48, 24? What is the median number of violations among predatory journals? Wouldn’t it be more defensible to have a gradual “predatoriness index” instead of a yes/no indicator? Please keep up the great work!

  27. […] Jeffrey Beall is a tenured Academic Librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver who has published extensively on the subject of “predatory publishing”. Since 2012, he has maintained a blog, scholarlyOA.com, containing critical analysis of the variety of open access journals. In particular, the blog is dedicated to identifying what he calls ‘predatory’ practices in the OA publishing world. According to his website, he’s been actively involved in researching this subject since 2009.  The archives of scholarlyOA.com are available back to January 2012. The central feature of the blog is Beall’s List, a directory of online publishers and journals that exhibit behaviours that call into question their academic integrity. Publishers are listed for inclusion in accordance with Beall’s Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (2nd edition), which can be found here. […]

  28. […] dig att bedöma om tidskriften är intressant för dig att publicera dig i. Du kan också läsa Jeffrey Beall:s lista över kriterier för att bedöma förlag/tidskrifter. När det finns frågor eller tveksamheter så kan du alltid höra av dig till mig så undersöker […]

  29. arfiani says:

    Thank you so much for this information. How about omics publisher? I need information about that.

  30. […] Di dalam website tersebut juga terdapat artikel yang perlu kita cermati, berjudul Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. […]

  31. […] Di dalam website tersebut juga terdapat artikel yang perlu kita cermati, berjudul Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. […]

  32. […] make it a point to read the exhaustive criteria listed out by Prof. Beall in his August 4 post (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/) to separate the wheat from the […]

  33. George says:

    Journals that require the author(s) to PAY a certain publication fee are obviously dubious.

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