Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (2nd edition)

November 30, 2012

In August 2012, I published the first edition of my Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. I received many helpful comments and am now publishing a second edition of the work. I am especially grateful to Bill Cohen and Dr. Michael W. Firmin for their helpful suggestions. Also, thanks to all the those who left helpful comments or who sent in emails with suggestions.  This document is also available as a PDF.

­Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers 

By Jeffrey Beall

2nd edition / December 1, 2012

1. Complete an analysis of the publisher’s content, practices, and websites according to ethical standards established by membership organizations.

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. Complete an analysis of 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 practices (below) that are known to be committed by predatory publishers.

n.b. Some journals publish independently of any publisher, but in most cases, we evaluate journals that are part of a publisher’s fleet. The practices described below are meant to apply both to independent journals and to publishers with multiple journals in their portfolios.

Editor and Staff

  • The publisher’s owner is identified as the editor of all the journals published by the organization.
  • No single individual is identified as the journal’s editor.
  • The journal does not identify a formal editorial / review board.
  • No academic information is provided regarding the editor, editorial staff, and/or review board members (e.g., institutional affiliation).
  • Evident data exist showing that the editor and/or review board members do not possess academic expertise to reasonably qualify them to be publication gatekeepers in the journal’s field.
  • Two or more journals have duplicate editorial boards (i.e., same editorial board for more than one journal).
  • The journals have an insufficient number of board members, have concocted 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/or photographs.

Business Management

The publisher…

  • Demonstrates a lack of transparency in publishing operations.
  • Has no policies or practices for digital preservation.
  • Depends on author fees as the sole and only means of operation with no alternative, long-term business plan for sustaining the journal through augmented income sources.
  • Begins operations with a large fleet of journals, often using a template to quickly create each journal’s home page.
  • Provides insufficient information or hides information about author fees, offering to publish an author’s paper and later sending a previously-undisclosed invoice.


  • The name of a journal is incongruent with the journal’s mission.
  • The name of a journal does not adequately reflect its origin (e.g., a journal with the word “Canadian” or “Swiss” in its name that has no meaningful relationship to Canada or Switzerland).
  • The journal falsely claims to have an impact factor, or uses some made up measure (e.g. view factor), feigning international standing.
  • The publisher sends spam requests for peer reviews to scholars unqualified to review submitted manuscripts.
  • The publisher falsely claims to have its content indexed in legitimate abstracting and indexing services or claims that its content is indexed in resources that are not abstracting and indexing services
  • The publisher dedicates insufficient resources to preventing and eliminating author misconduct, to the extent that the journal or journals suffer from repeated cases of plagiarism, self-plagiarism, image manipulation, and the like.
  • The publisher asks the corresponding author for suggested reviewers and the publisher subsequently uses the suggested reviewers without sufficiently vetting their qualifications or authenticity. (This protocol also may allow authors to create faux online identities in order to review their own papers).


A predatory publisher may ...

  • Publish papers already published in other venues/outlets without providing appropriate credits
  • Use language claiming to be a “leading publisher” even though the publisher may only be a startup or a novice organization.
  • Operate in a Western country chiefly for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country.
  • Do minimal or no copyediting.
  • Publish papers that are not academic at all, e.g. essays by laypeople or
    obvious pseudo-science.
  • Have a “contact us” page that only includes a web form, and the publisher hides or does not reveal its location

The following practices are considered to be reflective of poor journal standards and, while they do not equal predatory criteria, potential authors should give due consideration to these items prior to manuscript submissions:

  • The publisher copies “authors guidelines” verbatim (or with minor editing) from other publishers.
  • The publisher lists 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).
  • The publisher publishes journals that are excessively broad (e.g., Journal of Education) in order to attract more articles and gain more revenue from author fees.
  • The publisher publishes journals that combine two or more fields not normally treated together (e.g., International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology).
  • The publisher requires transfer of copyright and retains copyright on journal content. Or the publisher requires the copyright transfer upon submission of manuscript.
  • The publisher has poorly maintained websites, including dead links, prominent misspellings and grammatical errors on the website.
  • The publisher makes unauthorized use of licensed images on their website, taken from the open web, without permission or licensing from the copyright owners.
  • The publisher engages in excessive use of spam email to solicit manuscripts or editorial board memberships
  • The publishers’ officers use email addresses that end in, some other free email supplier
  • The publisher fails to state licensing policy information on articles or shows lack of understanding of well-known OA journal article licensing standards.
  • The publisher lacks a published article retraction policy or retracts articles without a formal statement; also the publisher does not publish corrections or clarifications and does not have a policy for these issues.
  • The publisher does not use ISSN numbers, DOI numbers or uses them improperly.
  • For the name of the publisher, the publisher uses names such as “Network,” “Center,” “Association,” “Institute,” and the like when it is only a publisher and does not meet the definition of the term used.
  • The publisher has excessive advertising on its site to the extent that it interferes with site navigation and content access.
  • The publisher has no membership in industry associations and/or intentionally fails to follow industry standards.
  • The publisher includes links to legitimate conferences and associations on its main website, as if to borrow from other organizations’ legitimacy, and emblazon the new publisher with the others’ legacy value.
  • The publisher displays prominent statements that promise rapid publication and/or unusually quick peer review.
  • The publisher focuses on authors (not readers) and on getting their fees at the expense of due quality, and offers few or no value adds to readers such as RSS feeds, hotlinked references, or the like.
  • The publisher creates a publishing operation that is set up and run by a single individual who engages in rapacious entrepreneurial behavior. The individual might have business administration experience, and the site may have business journals but it also has journals that are outside the experience of the entrepreneur or anyone on staff.
  • The publisher or its journals are not listed in standard periodical directories or are not widely cataloged in library databases.
  • The publisher copies or egregiously mimics journal titles from other publishers.
  • The publisher uses text on the publisher’s main page that describes the open access movement and then foists the publisher as if the publisher is active in fulfilling the movement’s values and goals.
  • None of the members of a particular journal’s editorial board have ever published an article in the journal.

Scholarly Journals for Winos

November 26, 2012
WYNO Academic Journals

Don’t drink this stuff

In American English, the term “wino” refers to a person who drinks a lot of wine or some other form of alcohol. Thus when I first became aware of WYNO Academic Journals, I had a good laugh. Read the rest of this entry »

Journal Indexing: What it is, and What it’s Not

November 20, 2012

Not all are abstracting and indexing services.

One of the things I notice when I examine predatory publishers’ and predatory journals’ websites is that they often brag about how many abstracting and indexing services cover their journals. Read the rest of this entry »

Open Access Alcohol

November 15, 2012
Predatory publisher

Why the quotes around “peer reviewed”?  Also note the typo: “Disease and addition.” Doesn’t add up.

OA Alcohol is the title of one of 140 new medical-science journals launched recently by the brand-new predatory publisher called OA Publishing London. While we love the idea of free drinks, we are frightened by the appearance of this sloppy new publisher.

If this new enterprise is being run by surgeons, we would not let them cut on us. The website is filled with careless mistakes including spelling errors, word choice errors, grammatical errors, dead links, broken image links, and more. The fleet of journals includes two that the publisher claims were transferred from BioMed Central: Head & Neck Oncology and Hard Tissue. BMC states regarding Head & Neck Oncology that,

Whilst conducting an internal audit, BioMed Central has discovered a number of apparent major irregularities in the journal Head & Neck Oncology. In order to maintain the integrity of the BioMed Central portfolio of journals, we have taken the decision to close the journal with immediate effect and are currently conducting a detailed investigation.

It appears that something dramatic has taken place, but we are unable to determine what it was. Did the editors defect from BMC and bring their journal with them? What did they do to spur BMC’s investigation? We also observe that several of the journal’s editors have had an unusually high number of articles published in it. One, Mr. Tahwinder Upile, has had over fifty articles published in the journal in the past four years.

We can find no evidence that BMC ever had a journal entitled Hard Tissue, so it’s possible that this new publisher is not being completely honest. The publisher has a range of article processing charges (APCs) for its journals. The website states the range is from “£100/€125/$162 to £750/€925/$1200.” Only a very few of the journals currently contain any content.

We are suspicious of any new OA startup that begins with 140 new journals and are concerned about the murky circumstances surrounding the transfer of the BMC journals to this new publisher. The sloppy condition of the site supports our suspicion that those behind this venture lack the ability to move it forward successfully and ethically.

We think this new publisher is really just out to separate authors from their money, and we recommend against submitting manuscripts to the publisher or serving on any of its editorial boards.

Appendix: List of OA Publishing London Journals as of 2012-11-12

  1. Hard Tissue
  2. Head and Neck Oncology
  3. OA Alcohol
  4. OA Alternative Medicine
  5. OA Anaesthetics
  6. OA Anatomy
  7. OA Applied Physiology
  8. OA Arthritis
  9. OA Autism
  10. OA Autoimmune
  11. OA Behavioural Medicine
  12. OA Biochemistry
  13. OA Bioinformatics
  14. OA Biology
  15. OA Biotechnology
  16. OA Blood Transfusion
  17. OA Bone Marrow
  18. OA Breast Disease
  19. OA Cancer
  20. OA Cardiology
  21. OA Case Reports
  22. OA Cell and Tissue
  23. OA Clinical Pathology
  24. OA Clinical Pharmacology
  25. OA Clinical Trials
  26. OA Conservative Dentistry
  27. OA Critical Care
  28. OA Dental Implantology
  29. OA Dentistry
  30. OA Dermatology
  31. OA Diabetes
  32. OA Drug Design and Delivery
  33. OA Elderly Medicine
  34. OA Embryology
  35. OA Emergency Medicine
  36. OA Endocrinology
  37. OA Endodontology
  38. OA Endoscopic Surgery
  39. OA Epidemiology
  40. OA Evidence-Based Medicine
  41. OA Experimental Medicine
  42. OA Family Medicine
  43. OA Forensic Medicine
  44. OA Gastroenterology
  45. OA Genetics
  46. OA Gynaecology
  47. OA Haematology
  48. OA Hand
  49. OA Hepatology
  50. OA Immunodeficiency
  51. OA Immunology
  52. OA Infectious Diseases
  53. OA Inflammation
  54. OA Integrative Medicine
  55. OA Interventional Radiology
  56. OA Lasers
  57. OA Leukaemia
  58. OA Lymphoma
  59. OA Medical Education
  60. OA Medical Ethics and Law
  61. OA Medical Hypothesis
  62. OA Medical Leadership
  63. OA Medical Physics
  64. OA Medical Simulation
  65. OA Medical Statistics
  66. OA Medicine
  67. OA Metabolic Disease
  68. OA Microbiology
  69. OA Minimally Invasive Surgery
  70. OA Molecular and Cell Biology
  71. OA Molecular Oncology
  72. OA Musculoskeletal Medicine
  73. OA Nano-Bio-Technology
  74. OA Nephrology
  75. OA Neuro-Oncology
  76. OA Neuroradiology
  77. OA Neurosciences
  78. OA Neurosurgery
  79. OA Nuclear Medicine
  80. OA Nutrition & Dietetics
  81. OA Obesity & Bariatric Medicine
  82. OA Obstetrics
  83. OA Ophthalmology
  84. OA Optical Diagnostics
  85. OA Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  86. OA Oral Medicine
  87. OA Orthodontics
  88. OA Orthopaedics
  89. OA Osteoporosis
  90. OA Otolaryngology
  91. OA Paediatric Dentistry
  92. OA Paediatric Medicine
  93. OA Paediatric Surgery
  94. OA Pain Medicine
  95. OA Palliative Care
  96. OA Parasitology
  97. OA Pathology
  98. OA Periodontology
  99. OA Perioperative Medicine
  100. OA Pharmacology
  101. OA Photodynamic Applications
  102. OA Plastic Surgery
  103. OA Prosthetic Dentistry
  104. OA Proteomics
  105. OA Psychiatry
  106. OA Psychology
  107. OA Public Health
  108. OA Quality of Life
  109. OA Radiological Imaging
  110. OA Rehabilitation Medicine
  111. OA Reproductive Medicine
  112. OA Respiratory Medicine
  113. OA Rheumatology
  114. OA Robotic Surgery
  115. OA Sarcoma
  116. OA Sexually Transmitted Infections
  117. OA Spine
  118. OA Sports Medicine
  119. OA Stem Cells
  120. OA Stroke
  121. OA Substance Abuse
  122. OA Surgery
  123. OA Surgical Oncology
  124. OA Surgical Techniques
  125. OA Systematic Reviews
  126. OA Thoracic Surgery
  127. OA Thyroid
  128. OA Tissue Engineering
  129. OA Tobacco
  130. OA Toxicology
  131. OA Translational Research
  132. OA Transplant Surgery
  133. OA Trauma
  134. OA Tuberculosis
  135. OA Undergraduate Medicine
  136. OA Uro-Oncology
  137. OA Urology
  138. OA Vascular Surgery
  139. OA Veterinary Medicine
  140. OA Virology

More Duplicate Journal Titles

November 7, 2012
International Journal of Science and Technology

Journal of Duplication

The shortage of unique journal names is worsening. I have discovered two new pairs of duplicate journal titles.

Read the rest of this entry »

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