Answered By: Laurissa Gann
Last Updated: Jun 10, 2021     Views: 40993

What is a Predatory Journal?

Predatory Journals take advantage of authors by asking them to publish for a fee without providing peer-review or editing services. Because predatory publishers do not follow the proper academic standards for publishing, they usually offer a quick turnaround on publishing a manuscript.  

In contrast, high quality academic journals take longer to publish articles because they go through a proper peer review and copy editing process. 

How are predatory journals different than Open Access journals?

Open Access journals may solicit authors to publish for a fee, but maintain high standards for peer review and editing. The goal of Open Access publishing is to disseminate research to a larger audience by removing paywalls. Open Access journals can have Impact Factors and can create a citation advantage for authors

Video: Open Access Explained!

How can you spot a predatory journal?

1. Do you or your colleagues know the journal? Do you recognize the editorial board?
2. Can you easily contact the publisher?
3. Is the journal clear about their peer review process?
4. Is it clear what fees will be charged?
If the answer is no for any of these questions, the journal is most likely questionable, if not predatory. 
How do I check to see if my journal is reputable?


There isn't one fool proof way to determine if a journal is predatory. It requires a bit of detective work. Here are a few places you can search to determine the quality of an open access journal.

  • Is the journal open access? If so, it is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals? 
    • Search the Directory of Open Access Journals. Be sure to limit your search to Journals only.  The DOAJ carefully vets open access journals for inclusion so if the journal is not listed in DOAJ, it means it may be questionable.
  • Is the journal indexed in Medline?
    • Search the NLM Catalog. If the record says "Not currently indexed for MEDLINE", it means that the journal may be questionable.  Just because a journal is not indexed in MEDLINE, does not mean the journal is automatically questionable. It could also mean that the journal is too new for MEDLINE or out of scope.
  • Has the journal been identified by others as predatory? Is it listed on the Cabell's Predatory Reports?
    • Google your journal title with the word predatory. You may be able to easily find news stories about the journal and it's predatory practices. You can also check Cabell's Predatory Reports to see if the journal is listed. 
  • Does the journal have an Impact Factor or do they list one on their website? Beware!
    • If a journal is claiming to have an Impact Factor, be sure to confirm this through the official Journal Citation Reports database. Only journals vetted through the JCR can officially state that they have an Impact Factor. Many predatory journals will make up an impact factor in an attempt to appear reputable.
  • Finally, ask a librarian!
    • Librarians are trained to spot predatory journals. Don't hesitate to ask for a second opinion. We can also help you to find a reputable journal in your subject area. 

How common are predatory journals?

As of 2015, there were an estimated 996 predatory publishers (including 447 publishers of standalone journals) that published over 11,800 journals. Of those, roughly 8,000 journal titles were active and published a total of approximately 420,000 articles. For comparison, this is roughly the same size, in both journal titles and articles published, as the legitimate open-access publishing industry. Not all of these predatory journals are in biomedicine fields, but biomedicine is a major area for predatory publishers, and the prevalence of predatory journals varies between specific fields. (Shen and Bjork)

Roughly 15% of articles published in predatory journals are from United States authors. However, this accounts for less than 1% of the United States' total research output. (Umlauf and Mochizuki)

Want to know more? Contact the Research Medical Library with questions or schedule a one-on-one or departmental session.


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