Skip to main content

Public Health: General Research Guide: Predatory Publishing

Research resources for Public Health.

Publishing in a Quality Open Access Journal

   Have you or one of your students been invited to publish your research in an open access journal?  

Open access publishing makes your research free to anyone on the internet and allows them to download, copy, print, distribute the information.  Open access is a great way to share your research with the public and other researchers and spur scholarly collaboration.

Unfortunately, in this evolving system, some companies use unethical publishing principles to deceive researchers into paying exorbitant fees to what turns out to be a fake journal. Before you begin negotiations, do some checking to verify the publisher is legitimate. Open access publishing often does use an author-pays fee, but for that fee, your paper should be peer-reviewed and edited by professionals before publishing. When looking for a potential publication, follow these tips to make sure your research doesn't end up in the wrong hands.

Do

  • Check the About page of the journal's website.  Is it owned by a recognized society or institution?  Do they have a physical address?
  • Look at their editorial board.  Are you familiar with the names and their reputations? Verify their institutional affiliations and that they know they're on the board.
  • Check the submission to publication time. Is it standard or do they guarantee a quick turn-around time?
  • Read their statement on the peer-review process? Is it credible or are papers accepted without review?
  • Check the metrics listed by the journal. Use Journal Citation Reports to confirm impact factors.
  • Read some of the published articles.  Are they of high quality? How many have they actually published?
  • Search UlrichsWeb to check prior history of the journal.

Don't

  • Don't sign a copyright agreement form until you verify the content use and re-use stipulations. Check for a SHERPA/RoMEO listing and also check to see if the journal is registered with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
  • Don't be taken by copy-cat journal titles. Look at the journal's website. Is the graphic design of high quality? Is the style purposely mimicking established journal titles?  Are there advertisements?
  • Don't sign anything without checking that the journal hasn't been bought out (hijacking) by faux publishers, even titles that may be indexed in MEDLINE.
  • Don't agree to an unreasonable open access fee. Most fall between $1500-$5000. Make sure the fee is visible on their website.
  • Don't assume they're legit because they approached you. Many companies use phishing and spam to get your attention.

Still unsure?  Ask your subject librarian for assistance.

Free Journal Selector Tools

Wondering where to submit your article? Use a journal selector to help choose an appropriate journal.  Enter your abstract or title and the program will find journals that have published articles with similar terms.

Help Evaluate Open Access Journals

Open Access, Briefly

There are currently three basic types of open access:

  • Green – refers to self-archiving, generally of the pre or post-print in repositories.  Examples include ScholarWorks at GSU and arXiv.org.
  • Gold – refers to articles in fully accessible open access journals. Repositories of these journals include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central.
  • Hybrid – some times called Paid Open Access, refers to subscription journals with open access to individual articles usually when a fee is paid to the publisher or journal by the author, the author's organization, or the research funder.

Click here for more information on OA publishing.

More Information

Read The Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (Updated). A statement drafted by WAME, COPE, DOAJ, and OASPA.

References: Beaubien, S, Eckard, M. (2014). Addressing Faculty Publishing Concerns with Open Access Journal Quality Indicators. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 2(2):eP1133.http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1133