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Writing Your Manuscript: Predatory Journals

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Predatory Publishers

What are predatory publishers ?
Predatory publishers have an exploitative business model that involves charging authors publication fees without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not).
"Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various level of deception and lack of transparency in their operations.  For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists."
 - Jeffrey Beall, quoted in Elliott, C. (2012, June 5). On Predatory Publishers a QA With Jeffrey Bealls. Retrieved December 06, 2016
What are hijacked journals?

Hijacked journals are those that mimic the names and International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSNs) of reputable journals  and publish papers without peer-review or questionable peer-review after receiving fees.

Steps to Avoid Predatory Publishers

  1. Use Declan Butler's Checklist to Identify Reputable Publishers (Butler, D. (2013, March 28). Investigating journals: The dark side of publishingNature, 495 (7442), 433-435. doi:10.1038/495433a)
  2. Or refer to the checklist available at Think. Check. Submit, a cross-industry initiative led by representatives from ALPSP, DOAJ, INASP, ISSN, LIBER, OASPA, STM, UKSG, and individual publishers.
  3. Contact your Information Specialist to help assess journal publishers.

Comparing Potential Predatory and Legitimate Journals

Shamseer et al. (2017) identified following 13 evidence-based characteristics by which predatory journals may potentially be distinguished from legitimate journals:
  1. ‚ÄčThe scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics
  2. The website contains spelling and grammar errors
  3. Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized
  4. The homepage language targets authors
  5. The Index Copernicus is promoted on the website
  6. Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking
  7. Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email
  8. Rapid publication is promised
  9. There is no retraction policy
  10. Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent
  11. The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)
  12. Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright
  13. The contact email address is non-professional (e.g., or

Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, et al. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC medicine. 2017;15(1):28-.

Impact of predatory and hijacked journals:

  • Global impact of these journals is that they are the repositories for unevaluated research, which can be cited and used by other authors. This can falsify the real picture of scientific research and hinder creditable research development. They are impacting the reliability and validity of research. 
  • A study published by Moher et al. examined a sample of 1907 papers in more than 200 supposed predatory journals and reported the followings:
    • Only 40% of studies reported ethics approval
    • Of the 17% of articles reporting funding source, US NIH most frequently named
    • India (27% ) and USA (15% ) produced most articles
    • Low quality methodologies used
  • In another study published in Neuroscience, the authors analyzing the neurology and neuroscience journals included in PubMed found that:
    • 25 predatory neurology journals were indexed in PubMed, accounting for 24.7% of all predatory neurology journals.
    • 14 predatory neuroscience journals were indexed in PubMed, accounting for 16.1% of all predatory neuroscience journals.
    • Only one of the 188 predatory neuroscience or neurology journals appeared in the DOAJ index.
    • Only 54.6% of the journals deemed predatory in neuroscience actually contained articles.


Dadkhah M, Maliszewski T, Jazi MD. Characteristics of Hijacked Journals and Predatory Publishers: Our Observations in the Academic World. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. 2016;37(6):415-8.

Manca A, Martinez G, Cugusi L, Dragone D, Dvir Z, Deriu F. The surge of predatory open-access in neurosciences and neurology. Neuroscience. 2017;353:166-73.

Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, et al. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC medicine. 2017;15(1):28-.