You've probably heard heard the term "predatory journals," but you may not know what they are or how to identify them. The videos and the frequently asked questions (FAQs) in this guide will give you the tools you need to avoid them.
Video 1: Predatory Journals: Discretion Advised – The Risks of Publishing in Predatory Journals [approximately 10 minutes; recorded June 2022]
In this video, you'll learn what "predatory journals" are and how to identify them.
Video 2: Predatory Journals: Escaping the Web – What to Do if You Get Snared by a Predatory [approximately 6 minutes; recorded June 2022]
In this video, you'll learn what to do if you are caught by predatory journal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Predatory Journals
Click on the question to display the answer.
Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Peer review processes.
Cornell University Library (2020). Understanding and avoiding predatory publishing.
InterAcademy Partnership (2022). Combating predatory academic journals and conferences.
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Predatory journals.
University of Arkansas Libraries (2022). Predatory journals.
An invitation to submit an article seems flattering, especially when it comes from an editor who promises swift publication in a journal with an impressive title. Before you click "reply," though, give your skepticism a moment to temper your enthusiasm. This complimentary email may be a lure, drawing you into a predator's jaws – specifically, the jaws of a predatory journal.
A respectable journal serves a community and strives to ensure that it publishes only quality research. Its editors and editorial board members have significant expertise, and each article undergoes rigorous peer review before publication. A predatory journal, in contrast, exists solely to maximize profits from author fees. With a group of editors and board members, it mimics a respectable journal; but closer inspection may reveal that they lack the necessary qualifications or even that they aren't real people. But such a journal doesn't need a qualified editorial team because it doesn't require peer review; it publishes just about any submission, as long as the author includes payment.
Over the past several years, exploiting the demand that researchers publish prolifically, this rapacious industry has boomed. This alarming trend not only threatens to dilute the scientific record with flawed papers and undermine public respect for the research community. It also threatens the credibility of individual researchers who naïvely publish their valuable work in such an unsanctioned journal.
But you can avoid falling victim, if you know how to spot a predator.Before you submit a manuscript to any journal, please take a look at Cornell University Library's clear, informative guide Understanding and Avoiding Predatory Publishing.
The best way to deal with predatory journals is to avoid them! Before you submit a manuscript to any journal, please take a look at Cornell University Library's clear, informative guide Understanding and Avoiding Predatory Publishing.
If you have already been snared by a predatory journal, the sooner you act, the better. This guide offers suggestions for withdrawing your work at various stages and a template for correspondence with a journal editor. Be aware that the editorial board members listed on the journal’s website may not have consented to be associated with the journal, in which case they will not be able to assist you.
For assistance, please contact the U of A Office of Scholarly Communications [firstname.lastname@example.org].
If you submitted a manuscript, write to the journal editor immediately and withdraw it. Do not pay a publishing fee. Do not pay a withdrawal fee. Do not sign any agreements with the publisher. Save copies of all your correspondence with the journal.
If you signed a publishing agreement or paid a publishing fee, you may have given the publisher legal rights to your work. Write to the journal editor immediately. Insist that the journal must not publish your work and that the editor return all rights to you. Do not pay a withdrawal fee. Do not sign any further agreements with the publisher. Save copies of all your correspondence with the journal.
If you signed a publishing agreement or paid a publishing fee, you may have given the publisher legal rights to your work. If you did not sign a publishing agreement or pay a publishing fee, you may have stronger legal standing in dealing with the publisher.
In either case, write to the journal editor immediately. Insist that the journal retract your work and return all rights to you. Do not pay a withdrawal fee. Do not sign any further agreements with the publisher. Save copies of all your correspondence with the journal.
Here is a template for corresponding with a predatory journal’s editor. You should adapt it according to your circumstances. Each of your co-authors should also send a similar message to the editor. You and your co-authors should save copies of all your correspondence with the journal.
Dear EDITOR’S NAME
I am the first and corresponding author on the manuscript [title] (Reference Number: [number]) submitted to the journal [name of journal]. I am contacting you requesting that you withdraw my manuscript, remove it from your server immediately, and never publish it in the future.
I and my co-authors hold the copyright to this work. None of us have transferred our copyright to [name of publisher], nor have we signed a publication agreement that gives you a license to publish our work. Therefore, should you publish our work you will be in violation of our copyright.
I have no intention of paying a withdrawal or publication fee, and I have no means or mechanisms in which to do so. You do not have the legal authority to post my manuscript on your site. I am again requesting that you withdraw my manuscript from your servers immediately and never publish it in the future.
I expect you to follow up with me via email with your explicit acknowledgement of this request. If my work remains on your site, I will find it necessary to enforce my request through additional means.
The guidance presented here was compiled from A.R. Memon (2018). How to respond to and what to do for papers published in predatory journals? Science Editing 5 (2) https://doi.org/10.6087/kcse.140 and recommendations provided by librarians at the University of Oklahoma, who also created the withdrawal request template.
Guide created July 2021.