Avoiding predatory publishers

John Rylands Library
Image by Michael D Beckwith [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Beall’s list updated for 2017 at Scholarly Open Access

UPDATED 19 JANUARY 2017: Beall’s online list, described below, has just been closed, citing “threats and politics” as the reason for the closure. It can still be accessed via the Internet Archive.

On a few occasions I’ve been approached by PhD students who’ve received offers, via email, to have their work published. “Is this worth following up?”, they ask. My answer is likely to be no. These offers typically come from what are referred to as ‘predatory publishers’. After many years in the academic world, I can usually spot the predator publishers. However, it’s often not so clear-cut for students and early career scholars. The analogous phenomenon of ‘predatory conferences’ can be yet more difficult to identify. In both cases, websites can be made to look very professional. Indeed, legitimate websites are sometimes hijacked, and it’s not unusual for journal titles, conference brands and scholars’ names to be copied and used without permission. It can take a little detective work to distinguish the genuine calls for papers from the dodgy ones.

With this in mind, a useful resource is offered by Jeffrey Beall, University of Colarado. Although some may dispute aspects of his methodology (e.g. the use of English proficiency as a factor in determining authenticity), his website, Scholarly Open Access, offers helpful lists and advice for those who are unsure whether a journal, publisher or conference organiser is genuine. It is not always possible to make a definitive judgement and there may be borderline cases, but Beall helps by flagging up those journals or publishers that are questionable. We can then dig further to make our own judgement.

To find out more

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2017. UPDATED 19 JANUARY 2017: Now accessible only via the Internet Archive.

Carey, Kevin (2016) A Peek inside the Strange World of Fake Academia, New York Times, 29 December 2016.

Pai, Madhukar and Eduardo Franco (2016) Predatory Conferences Undermine Science and Scam Academics, Huffington Post Canada, 13 October 2016.

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