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Getting Published: Journal Articles: Unethical publishing

Unethical (Predatory) Publishing

Unethical publishers (sometimes referred to as predatory) seek to take advantage of the Gold Open Access model of publication, whereby the author pays to have an article available open access. Such practitioners can set up websites that closely resemble legitimate online publishers, and often send out spam emails requesting authors to submit articles or to become an editor or peer reviewer. Academics considering publishing in journals should carefully evaluate the scholarly credibility of both the publisher and the journal.

LISTEN to the ABC Radio National Background Briefing segment on predatory publishing and the tactics used in this growing sector.

Avoid mishaps: important criteria to consider

Before deciding to publish in a new journal, consider the following criteria:

  • Check Ulrichsweb to see if the journal is peer reviewed, and where it is indexed. If a journal is not indexed in the important journal databases in your discipline, you should look very critically at the title.
  • Who is on the editorial board? You may decide to contact the member to check that their affiliation is legitimate.
  • What is the quality of the articles? If they're clearly written by a novice this may indicate a predatory publisher.
  • Does the publisher have a clear peer-review process and provide details about their peer review panel?
  • Are the publisher’s rejection rates comparable with other publisher’s rates?
  • Do web searches involving the publisher name and keywords, like complaint, scam, or fraud, retrieve results?

Check if the publisher is a member of a reputable industry organization such as Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association or the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

ThinkCheckSubmit--This is new tool produced with the support of a coalition from across scholarly communications in response to discussions about deceptive publishing.  It will walk you through the process of evaluating journals for publishing your research.