Skip to Main Content

Predatory Publishing


Assess Journals - Criteria and Tools


Criteria below are adapted from CARL's How to Assess a Journal resource. 

Review articles
  • Read articles from the journal to get a sense of quality

Investigate the journal's reputation
  • Consult with colleagues; have they published in or heard of the journal?
  • Search online for any comments/posts from academics about their experiences with a journal


  • Retraction Watch: Database of journal retractions maintained by the nonprofit Center for Scientific Integrity

Be critical about the journal's marketing and review process 
  • Does the journal send unsolicited emails?
  • Does the journal promise a quick peer review process?

Review the journal's website 
  • Is there clear and detailed information available about:
    • the peer review process
    • APCs (article processing charges)
    • how to contact the publisher
    • the editorial board, including affiliations 
    • author rights, including copyright 
  • Does the website state where the journal is indexed, and are you familiar with the indexes?
  • What is the scope of the journal? Is it overly broad?
  • Is the website design professional looking, with no spelling or grammar errors?
  • Does the journal reference well-known metrics such as impact factor or metrics you have never heard of?
  • Is the journal a member of any reputable organizations, such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)?
  • Some predatory publishers include false information on websites in order to appear legitimate, such as using academics' names without their knowledge.
    • Investigate some members of the editorial board. Do they reference their connection to the journal?
    •  Verify claims about impact factors and other metrics, indexes, and memberships


For assistance, contact your Subject Librarian.  

Complicating Factors

Identifying the most exploitative bad-faith journals is important, but does not fully address the complexity of the problem or practices that fall into grey areas. For example, a 'legitimate' journal:

Further reading:

Additional Resources

Presentation delivered by John Dupuis, York University, at OCADU's Open Access Week, 2015:


Creative Commons License
This Guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY), unless otherwise noted.

chat loading...