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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

Journal web page & reputation

Journal Website

Visiting an unknown journal’s website is a good first step for judging the journal’s quality. It should give a professional impression. If the journal claims to be open access, all articles on it should be available in full-text without jumping through any hoops. According to Shamseer et. al. (2017) the following are signs indicating a journal could be predatory:

  • Typos and poor grammar
  • Bad quality images on the pages
  • The journal uses images without permission, or in the wrong context
  • Fake or misleading “impact factor”
  • A far lower submission fee than normal (under $150)
  • Language directed at authors, fishing for submissions
  • Requires the manuscript to be sent to an e-mail address rather than submitted online
  • Contact email that isn’t journal-specific, but free services such as e.g. Gmail or Yahoo.

Example of a predatory journal website - How many clues can you find?

Even just the homepage of this journal website reveals some oddities you might not expect to find in a reputable journal. There is no space after commas in the writing, and manuscript length is stated in pages rather than words. And if you then move on to Abstracting & Indexing you won’t find a single actual citation database. Under Contact Us the address is ”” a generic email service and address that doesn’t go to any specific named person.

This is a journal from OMICS, a publisher that a US federal judge ordered to pay $50 million in damages for for deceptive and predatory publishing activities in March 2019. There are a lot of things to take note of here: they use Index Copernicus Value and brag about how many more readers they have than other journals. But the real kicker is that the editorial board of this journal in the field of palliative care and medicine includes a member who  is a retired history professor. (W. Andrew Achenbaum, prominently pictured on the homepage, is Professor Emeritus in History and Social Work at the University of Houston.)

This journal website is kind of a mess. Looking under “Indexing” it gives the impression that it is indexed by Web of Science. Checking that shows that it’s a total fabrication. The h-index they list is based on data from Google Scholar, and so has not been through any kind of quality control.