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Publishing a Journal Article

Evaluating Open Access Journals: Ensure You're Submitting to a Legitimate Journal

"Predatory journals" exploit the Open Access publishing model. Most Open Access journals - including high-quality journals - charge the author a fee ("Article Processing Charge" or APC) to support publication and peer-review costs. Predatory journals exist only to collect article processing  charges from authors. There is no legitimate peer review: every article submitted with payment, is published. 

Publishing an article in a predatory journal implies that your research is not good enough to be published in a legitimate journal.

If you're being asked to pay an Article Processing Fee/Charge to publish in a journal you're not familiar with, do some research to confirm that it is a legitimate, high-quality Open Access journal.  If you need  assistance or have doubts about any journal, please contact your Subject Librarian.

5 Things I Learned After Publishing In A Predatory Journal. (September 2017) Post-doc Edmond Sanganyado describes his experience.

Chambers, A. H. (2019). How I became easy prey. Science : 364(6440), 602-602. doi:10.1126/science.364.6440.602


Think.Check.Submit has been developed by academic publishers and scholarly associations to help you choose a trusted journal for your article.

Think. Check. Submit. on Vimeo.

Visit the Think.Check.Submit website. for the full checklist, available in more than 35 languages!

 And for Conferences, use Think.Check. Attend to help you judge the "judge the legitimacy and academic credentials of conferences ".

Questions and Resources to Help You Avoid a Predatory Journal

If you need any assistance or have doubts about any journal, please contact your Subject Librarian.

Does UBC Library maintain an Institutional Membership with the journal's publisher?
UBC Library maintains institutional memberships with a variety of legitimate Open Access publishers and organizations. These memberships often provide discounts on article processing charges for UBC researchers. Consult the list of Open Access Publisher Discounts for UBC Researchers.

Is the journal included in DOAJ, the Directory of Open Access journals?
DOAJ  reviews the quality of the journals it accepts and adds to its listings. Journals accepted into DOAJ tend to be more reputable. DOAJ maintains a list of journals which claim to be indexed in DOAJ, but are not indexed in DOAJ.

Is the publisher a member of OASPA?
OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) is committed to setting standards and promoting open access publishing. These Open Access publishers share information and are more likely to have higher standards than non-members. Check the membership list.

Is the journal indexed?
Major databases and index services try to include only legitimate, high-quality journals. If the journal's website lists  names of indexes and abstracts that include the journal, confirm the information by searching in the index(es) they list. Find the index on UBC Library's list of databases here

What are the journal's metrics?
Predatory journals may list completely fictitious impact factors. Check Journal Citation Reports or SJR (SCIMago Journal and Country Rankings) to see if the journal has a legitimate impact factor, especially if the journal website claims that it does.  Note that JCR does not include some journals in the humanities, and newer Open Access journals may not yet have impact factor.

What are the citation counts on some individual papers?
Check the citation counts of several articles in the journal in Web of Science  or Google Scholar. Are these articles being cited by others in that field? A low or non-existent citation count for articles published a few years ago may mean that the journal does not publish high quality research.

Was the Journal on Beall's List?
From 2008 to the end of 2016, Jeffrey Beal maintained a list of potentially problematic scholarly open access publishers and publications.  Not without controversy, the list was helpful when used in conjunction with other factors.  A copy of the December  2016 list is available at the Internet Archive.

Did the journal solicit your article or chapter?
Sometimes reputable Open Access publishers send out notices offering to publish your work, but direct email solicitations are not typically used by legitimate publishers.  Make sure to find out more about the publisher/journal.

Does the submission process require transferring copyright of your article to the journal/publisher?
If you can't submit your article without first transferring your copyright, investigate the journal further.

Do you need to pay an article processing charge as you submit, i.e. before your article is accepted?
Most legitimate Open Access journals charge APC's upon acceptance.

(Adapted in part from "Evaluating Open Access Journals" is licenced as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)   Ryerson University Library and Archives.)


Additional Questions and Criteria

Who is on the Editorial Board?
Identify who is on the editorial board and check how qualified they are to review your work. Read profiles or look up board members on the Internet to review their credentials. In the case of a newer journal, you might consider contacting one of the members of the editorial board to ask questions about the peer review process.

Who are authors that have previously published in the journal?
Scan a few recent issues. Are all the authors from the same institution? Are there repeated authors or groups across a few issues, or one dominant author? If so, investigate further.

What university was the research affiliated with?
Check that the author is affiliated with an institution or university that is reputable. Does the institution have a program or expertise in the field that is being written about?

What is the acceptance procedure?
How long does it take for the journal to accept your paper for publication? Do they promise acceptance within a few days or weeks? A timeline that would not allow enough time for quality peer review  is cause  for more investigation.

What is the quality of the articles in the journal?
Read a few articles. Are they well-written, and/or provide data and a sound scientific method?
Was the publisher recently established or does it publish an unusually high number of journals? A recently-established publisher that produces 50+ journals requires further investigation.

What is the journal's publication history?
Does the journal have a regular publication schedule? Look for how many issues have been published each year, and for how many years.

(Adapted in part from "Evaluating Open Access Journals" is licenced as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)   Ryerson University Library and Archives.)


Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers

From 2008 until January 15, 2017, Jeffrey Beall maintained a website called "Scholarly Open Access", popularly known as "Beall's List". The site listed publishers and individual journals that Beall classified as predatory.

Beall's List of Predatory Publishers and Journals was created on January 15, 2017 from a cached copy of the original site. New content will be added while maintaining the integrity of the original lists. In a disclaimer, the creator of the new site says s/he is a "postdoctoral researcher in one of the European universities [who has] hands-on experience with predatory journals" and wishes to remain anonymous.