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Family Medicine (Mona): Avoiding Predatory Journals and Publishers

What is a predatory journal?

The term "predatory journal" was coined by Jeffrey Beall, then Librarian at the University of Colorado.  He initiated a list of potentially predatory journals and publishers referred to as the Beall's List which disappeared for a while is now being updated anonymously.

Predatory journals (not to be confused with legitimate open access journals) exist solely to collect fees from authors. They are produced by publishers with questionable practices and typically do little or no peer-review. They also attract unsuspecting authors by offering short turn-around times and, in some cases, low publishing fees.These fees attract some individuals because they are usually lower than the article processing fee that is charged by legitimate open access publishers. In other instances the information on fees is hidden (Cobey et al., 2018). Authors need to beware of predatory journals because once published, articles cannot be submitted or published in another journal. Authors may also have their reputation besmirched by having their publications appearing in questionable journals.The Mona Library provides consultation on assessing journal legitimacy. Seminars are also conducted by the Library on the topic of predatory journals and conferences.

How do I recognise a predatory journal or publisher?



  • Email spamming soliciting article submissions and inviting academics to serve on editorial boards (not to be confused with calls for papers etc. from reputable journals and publishers).
  • Use of ‘freemail’ such as or instead of institutional email.
  • Manuscripts are submitted via email.
  • Guaranteed publishing. 
  • Promises of quick turn turn-around times from submission to publication. Some offer fast-track services for extra fees. 
  • Information on digital preservation of articles is absent.
  • Lack of transparency on peer review process.
  • Multidisciplinary in scope.
  • Lack of transparency regarding credentials and affiliations of editorial board.
  • Sometimes known experts in the field are listed on editorial boards without their knowledge.
  • Same editor listed on several journals of various disciplines by same publisher.
  • Lack of transparency on fees e.g. informing authors of fees after article acceptance. Some do not disclose their article processing fees (APCs) while others.  Some demand fees before acceptance.
  • Use of fake impact factors such as Cite Factor, General Impact Factor, Global Impact Factor, International Scientific Indexing and Scientific Journal Impact Factor.
  • False claims of being indexed in established databases such as MEDLINE, Scopus, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Web of Science.
  • No retraction policy

Identifying Trustworthy Journals

Use this checklist to assess an unfamiliar journal.

Graduate Students Beware!

Beware of publishers inviting you to publish your recently completed dissertation with them.

Many are vanity publishers and will sell your thesis to content mills.

Read one author's experience with LAPLambert at SLATE.COM