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What is a Predatory Journal?


Predatory Journals

The term “Predatory Journals” was first coined  in 2010 by Jeffrey Beall, Associate Professor and Scholarly Initiatives Librarian, Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver, USA. Predatory journals are the by-product of  the Open Access (OA) publishing movement. They are primarily substandard serial publications produced by deceptive publishers whose sole purpose is of making money out of Article Processing Charges (APCs) by shortchanging authors with their “low-quality, fly-by-night operations”¹.  Despite the claims of  these publishers, articles are published in predatory journals without rigorous peer review.

 A hijacked journal  is defined as a fraudulent website created to look like a legitimate academic journal for the purpose of offering academics the opportunity to rapidly publish their research for a fee²

Read this Science article to learn more about hijacked journals. Here is an example that explains how predatory publishers run their businesses without any academic or ethical standards.

A LibGuide from Iowa State University classifies the predator publishers into four groups:

1.  Phisher: Lures you in with promises then charges large fees after your paper has been “accepted.” Publication fees are usually not openly disclosed and after acceptance phishers may demand payment even though no paperwork has been signed.

2.  Imposter or Hijacker: Poses as a well-established journal or as a publication associated with a well-known brand or society. Often these journals tack on an extra word to an existing journal name such as “Advances”, “Review” or “Reports” or create websites that appear to be affiliated with another publication.

3.  Trojan Horse: Has a legitimate looking website, often with impressive lists of publications, but upon closer inspection nothing is what it seems. The journals are empty shells or worse, populated by stolen or plagiarized articles.

4. Unicorn: Too good to be true! These publishers may in fact be legitimate businesses which are not providing good products or customer support/ service. Common problems may include: no archiving policy (meaning your publication could disappear at any time); missing or ill defined peer-review criteria; and possible publishing ethics violations.


¹ Berger M, Cirasella J. Beyond Beall’s List. Coll Res Libr News. 2015;76(3):132-135.