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Recognizing Predatory Journals and Conferences

A guide to educate JWU faculty, students and staff about journals and conferences that employ deceptive practices for unmerited financial or reputational gain. Originally created by Pieta Eklund, and reproduced / edited with permission

Article Discovery

Searchability & Indexing

How a journal is indexed and made searchable is of great importance to how the article in a journal is disseminated. By being indexed in databases relevant to the subject assures that it will be seen and read by others with authoritative knowledge of the field.

Predatory journal publishers often claim the journal is indexed in relevant and authoritative databases, even though the journal is not. If you suspect a journal might not be indexed as claimed, check to see if you have access to the database through JWU Library and if so, search for the journal. If access is not available through JWU Library, check with a librarian who can do further investigating for you.

Here is a list of databases and services that journals often claim to be indexed in (further down on the page there are also descriptions of services that predatory journals tend to mention, even though they aren't subject databases).

Open databases:

Access through the JWU Library

“Indexing” in various irrelevant systems

Predatory publishers might claim that their journals are “listed” or “catalogued” in databases. This has nothing to do with indexing – “listed” means you can find the journal in some register or database (not necessarily a mark of quality, and won’t make your article findable), and “catalogued” simply means a journal has been included in a library or other catalogue (same thing there).

Dubious journals also like to boast about being “indexed” by various systems and services that aren’t citation databases, and so won’t do anything to make your article searchable. Here is a list of examples we have seen mentioned:

  • Cabell's: A paid service that offers both a whitelist and a blacklist. It’s impossible to check whether or not the journal really is whitelisted unless you pay to access the service.
  •  Crossref: An organization that works to facilitate citation, and tracking of citations between different academic journals.
  •  DOAJ: A database over open access journals.
  • Gale: A company that does maintain several real citation databases and catalogues. But these databases are very specific, and a journal should know which of them they are listed in, and not just mention the general “Gale”.
  • Google Scholar: A useful search engine, but it does no quality control of included articles whatsoever.
  • Ulrichsweb: A database with information about journals. Ulrichsweb does not index individual articles.

An example: British Journal of Science makes the claim on their webpage that they are indexed in among others Ulrichweb, DOAJ, a few subject database and Scopus. Searching Scopus for the journal title gets no hits. Ulrichsweb lists the journal, but it is not marked as refereed. In other words: it looks fishy.