Publishing Support

 Quality Indicators, Identifying Deceptive and Predatory Publishing Practices

Scholarly communication is the process used by researchers to create, share, publish and disseminate research with the academic community. Determining and selecting the appropriate reputable publication source is an important component of the scholarly communication process. There are a number of identifying characteristics to determine the reputation and quality of a publication. While a librarian can provide assistance evaluating the reputation of a publisher/publication, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the appropriate and reputable venue.    

Indicators of reputable publications/publishers:

  • disciplinary reputation and recognition
  • rigorous peer-review process and transparency of publication procedures
  • impact factor
  • editorial board comprised of recognized scholars
  • affiliated with a reputable academic institution or well-established scholarly society
  • scope of publication well-defined, clearly stated, meets standards of the discipline
  • author’s rights, copyright, fees or charges for publication clearly defined and stated
  • journal has ISSN (International Standard Serial Number), articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier)
  • journal is indexed in reputable indexes and/or databases
  • if open access: journal listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals and publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

Think.Check.Submit   is an assessment tool to help researchers determine the credentials of a journal or a publisher. The resource was developed in response to concerns related to deceptive publishing and is the product of collaboration among organizations and associations devoted to scholarly communication: Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), and International Association of STM Publishers (STM). 

While many academic publishers/publications are reputable, there have always been publishers who are less reputable and do not follow established scholarly publishing standards. The increase of Open Access publishing models has created challenges for differentiating between legitimate Open Access sources and disreputable publishers. 

Predatory journals deliberately employ deceptive practices and exploit the Open Access publishing model by posing as reputable, quality academic publications. Predatory publishers do not follow rigorous editorial practices, charge authors high publication fees and often target less established researchers by actively and aggressively inviting submissions. In determining if a publication is suspect: consult with a librarian and colleagues, look for the impact factor, and thoroughly review the content of the publisher’s website. There are a number of characteristics indicative of predatory journals and it is important to exercise caution. 

Indicators of disreputable, predatory publications/publishers:

  • lack of details about the publisher, no contact information
  • vague or no information pertaining to instructions to authors, editorial practices, peer-review process and publication procedures
  • author’s rights, copyright, fees or charges for publication are not clearly stated, or listed publication fees are very high
  • lack of clarity on Author Processing Charges (APC)
  • scope of publication vague, poorly defined, fails to meet disciplinary standards, or includes unrelated fields of research
  • absence of editorial board, or editorial board comprised of unknown scholars
  • lack of affiliation with a reputable academic institution or well-established scholarly society, or the stated affiliation is not legitimate
  • check for a journal ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) and if articles have DOIs (Digital Object Identifier)
  • determine if journal is indexed in legitimate, reputable indexes and/or databases
  • check if the journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals and publisher is a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association
  • search publisher’s website and check past articles:
    • are they accessible, are they recent, are older articles accessible
    • what are the authors’ affiliations and are the affiliations legitimate
    • do the authors names seem to repeat
    • can the articles be retrieved through legitimate indexes/databases
    • have and where have the articles been cited
    • do a Google search for authors, articles, and publication


Further assistance

Resources available to provide assistance with scholarly communication include: colleagues, librarians, and documents from reliable organizations, such as Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), publishing associations and Beall’s List: 

How to assess a journal:

Identifying and avoiding predatory publishers: a primer for researchers

Principles of transparency and best practice in scholarly publishing 

Code of conduct for journal publishers

Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers

Cabell's Blacklist Criteria


Contact Emily Carlisle, Scholarly Communication and Research Data Management Librarian, for assistance.


Nancy E. Black, Executive Director, Library Services

March 2018