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Open Access and Scholarly Communication: Vetting Publishers

Vetting Open Access Journals

Not all open access journals have strong editorial policies, and unfortunately there are many predatory publishers in this field (see box below).  There are several ways that you can check the quality of an open access journal for publishing your research:

  • The journal is indexed in an established and reputable database such as Scopus or Ulrich's, or is included in a reputable database or index in one's field.

Other resources to check are:

  • SHERPA/RoMEO: This website lists the open access policies of journals and publishers.
  • ThinkCheckSubmit : This tool was produced with the support of a coalition across the scholarly community in response to discussions about deceptive publishing and takes you through the process of choosing and evaluating journals.
  • The journal's website for such information as:
    • An ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
    • A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for each article
    • The journal's scope,  affiliation with a university or professional organization, editorial board credentials, or acceptance rates.
    • Publishing fees and copyright policies, which should be clearly indicated. (For more information about your rights as an author, see the Copyright and Authors Rights tab on this guide.)

These resources are valuable for proving the quality of journals you have published in for tenure, promotion and performance reviews.

Predatory Open Access Publishers and Conferences

An unfortunate side effect of the open access movement is the proliferation of open access journals and publishers that exist for profit and not scholarly purposes.  These journals/publishers have little or no subject expertise and are of questionable repute.

Before deciding to publish in an open access journal, make sure you have researched the title's credibility (see also the OA Publishers page on this guide). Scholars and researchers may receive email solicitations for fee-based paper submissions to journals that make false  claims about their peer-review process, the members of their editorial board or the indexing status.‚Äč

Jeffrey Beall, an associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, until recently maintained a list of potential predatory open access publishers.  While the site has been taken down for reasons that are not fully clear the site has been archived and is available for reference:

These same lists and caveats are useful for assessing the legitimacy of academic conferences.  Be wary of conferences that are affiliated with the journals and publishers on Beall's lists as well as those that accept your papers very quickly and do not appear to offer much  in the way of peer review.