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Predatory Publishing

What is Predatory Publishing?

Predatory journals use questionable and unethical practices, including exploiting the open access model by charging article processing fees without providing any editorial services expected of a legitimate publisher.

These practices include:

  • Lack of peer review, even though it may be advertised as a peer-reviewed journal
  • Names which match or are similar to well-known journals in the field
  • Unclear policies regarding article processing charges (APCs)
  • Individuals listed as editors or reviewers without permission
  • Fake journal impact factors
  • False claims regarding indexing in reputable services

How do I know if a journal is predatory?

Here are some indicators that a journal may predatory:

  • It is not indexed in any reputable database, such as PubMed/Medline or CINAHL. Note: Inclusion in PubMed Central (PMC) is NOT the same as being indexed in PubMed!
  • There is a quick turnaround time between manuscript acceptance and publication.
  • Information about the journal's scope, editorial policies, editors, and/or publisher is lacking or vague.


In order to more easily identify predatory journals, there have been attempts to create lists of journals with predatory practices. The most well known among these is "Beall's list," created by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver. His site was taken down in 2017, after threats of lawsuits from publishers whose journals appeared on the list. It has since been republished and updated by an anonymous scholar.

Alternatively, others have created lists to identify open access journals that are known to be legitimate. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the leader in this area, with standards for inclusion to ensure journals are publishing scholarly research.

While these lists can be a helpful starting point, keep in mind that they are not a substitute for investigating the journal yourself. There are inherent problems with any list, such as consistent classification and keeping them updated. Beall's list, in particular, has received criticism from publishers and open access advocates alike. See the tools and other information on this guide for help with evaluating journals.

Predatory Publishing in Nursing

In 2014, the International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE) published a statement about predatory publishing, and many nursing journals published editorials in response, educating nurses about the situation and offering advice.

Predatory Conferences

In addition to journals, there are also conferences that can be considered "predatory" due to questionable and unethical practices. Indicators that a conference is predatory include:

  • Being organized by a corporation, rather than an association or university
  • Important sounding names such as "Global" "International" or "World Congress"
  • Abstracts approved quickly, indicating lack of peer review

You can also use the Think - Check - Submit checklist to evaluate conferences.

Additional Readings

Beaubien, S., & Eckard, M.,. (2014). Addressing faculty publishing concerns with open access journal quality indicators. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 2(2), eP1133.

Berger, M., Cirasella,J. (2015). Beyond Beall’s list: Better understanding predatory publishers. College & Research Libraries News, 76(3).

Bohannon, J. (2013). Who's afraid of peer review? Science, 342 (Oct), 60-65.

Butler, D. (2013). Investigating journals: the dark side of publishing. Nature, 495, 433-435.

Michaela, S., Anna, S., Katrin, M., & Matthias, E. (2019). Blacklists and whitelists to tackle predatory publishing: A cross-sectional comparison and thematic analysis. mBio, 10(3), e00411-19.

Oermann, M.H., Conklin, J.L., Nicoll, L.H., Chinn, P.L., Ashton, K.S., Edie, A.H., Amarasekara, S., & Budinger, S.C. (2016). Study of Predatory Open Access Nursing Journals. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48, 624-632.

Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., Clark, J., Galipeau, J., Roberts, J., & Shea, B. J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: Can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine, 15(1), 28.

Selecting a Journal

Use the sites below to help you select a reputable journal in which to publish your work. You can also contact the library staff for help in researching a journal.

Evaluation Tools