Predatory publishers

What is it?

So called predatory publishers are publishers who deliberately misuse the open access publishing business model and mislead researchers for pure economic gain. They typically fail to provide any real, satisfactory peer review process (and thus not any impact factor or indexing in the large, international databases Web of Science and Scopus). Often they make themselves known through massive, spam-like e-mail campaigns, advertising their relatively low publication fees. Publishing in possible predatory journals may be detrimental to your CV.

How to identify and avoid predatory publishers

A check-up may include the following criteria. 1

Positive indicators

  • Journal is included in ”the Norwegian list” (ranking of publishing channels with approved peer review)
  • Journal is indexed in subject specific databases
  • Journal scope is well-defined and clearly stated
  • The journal’s main target group is researchers
  • Editor and the editorial board are well-known within the field
  • Journal is affiliated with or sponsored by a well-known scholarly society or academic institution
  • Published articles are within the scope of the journal and meet the standards of the discipline
  • All publishing fees are easily found, and clearly explained, on the journal’s website
  • Articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier, e.g. 10.1111/jonm.1227)
  • Journal clearly indicates rights for use and re-use of content on article level (e.g. Creative Commons CC BY license)
  • Journal has ISSN (International Standard Serial Number, e.g. 1748-2623)
  • Publisher is a member of OASPA
  • Journal is registered in UlrichsWeb

Negative indicators

  • Journal is not indexed in subject specific databases
  • Journal’s website is difficult to find or identify
  • Publisher About information is inadequate or completely missing
  • Publisher direct marketing is obtrusive (spamming)
  • Information for authors is inadequate or not available
  • Information on peer review and copyright is inadequate, unclear or missing from the journal website
  • Journal scope statement is missing or vague
  • Repeat lead authors in same issue
  • Publisher has a negative reputation online


1. Eklund, Pieta, 2015. Quality indicators for open access journals. Forskningsrelaterat. [Blog] May 11. (Accessed 2016-05-12)

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