Predatory journals solicit articles from researchers through practices that exploit the pressure on researchers to publish. Features of predatory journals include rapid pay-to-publish models without rigorous peer-review, fake editorial boards falsely listing respected scientists, fraudulent impact factors, journal titles that are deceptively similar to those of legitimate journals, paid review articles that promote fake science, and aggressive spam invitations to submit articles, including outside of a researcher’s expertise. Furthermore, it is common practice for predatory journals to exploit the “author-pays” model of open access for financial gain.
Predatory conferences are a growing part of the academic landscape. They may be organised by these same publishers, or by specialised for-profit conference groups. They exploit the pressure on researchers to present their work, especially to international audiences. These conferences are characterised by a similar lack of peer-review of submitted abstracts and papers, may charge high fees with respect to the services provided, and often invite researchers to speak on topics outside their area of expertise; in the case of fake conferences, they do not take place at all
Yes, Predatory journals are a thing. There seems to be a new Journal announced online every other week, and this includes 'predatory journals' so how can you tell if a journal you may want to submit to is legitimate?
1. Check their website; does it look professional? Does it link to other sites, for example members of the editorial board and their home institutions? Is the grammar and spelling up to scratch?
2. Are they indexed? To be indexed by the main databases (like Scopus and Web of Science) a journal has to adhere to strict criteria. Google Scholar is not transparent in the way they indexed and therefore can't be reliable.
To check whether the journal is indexed go to Scopus or Web of Science and search the Journal title.
3. Some Journal titles are very similar so it is a good idea to check the ISSN. The ISSN should appear on the Journal 'About' pages, and you can check it on a site like Sherpa Romeo or search the Library Hub Discover for more information about the Journal. If it doesn't appear on either of them, be wary.
4. Some journals - predatory and legitimate - may email you directly about submissions for an issue or a conference proceeding. Read this email carefully, does it refer to you and your work specifically or has it copied your details from an article header - If they write to you Surname, First Name, that often is a sign of Copy & Paste. Ask what specifically in the article impressed them if they haven't given specific details.
If you are still unsure, ask me to check for you. firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Predatory Publishing please check Think. Check. Submit this is a reliable site with useful tips and updates on Predatory Publishing in most formats,
Predatory conferences are a more recent development, and it is more difficult to check their legitimacy. Legitimate conferences are an important part of academia especially for early career researchers to build networks externally from their institution and increase the chance of collaboration and papers. The pandemic has enabled a big increase in online conferences, but with restrictions loosening, many of us have been keen to reconnect in person, and this is being exploited.
Predatory conferences appear to be springing up to take advantage of this, and marketing themselves as 'new conferences'.
If the conference claims to publish papers presented as Conference Proceedings we can use many of the tactics we use for journals such as checking the ISSN or whether the proceedings are indexed.
There have been cases of Predatory Conferences reaching out to academics to be on organising committees and using these names to legitimise the conference further. It can be difficult to have your name removed from these websites without the support of your institution.
There have been instances of academics paying the attendance fees, and booking accommodation beforehand and then receiving no further information about the conference (e.g. a programme of speakers, topics, timings or a specific venue), and the organisation refusing to refund the fee.
If you are unsure about a conference, it is worth emailing a member of the organising committee to check, they may be unaware that their name is being used.
There are some more obvious signs such as a poorly designed website, spelling or grammatical errors, and broken links but if in doubt, please ask me to check it for you.