How to avoid scam journals

Beware! To avoid being tricked by scam journals, you should always follow the following rules to deterine the quality of a journal. 

How to identify mediocre or predatory academic journals and publishers

  1. Spend a few minutes searching on the following websites for the publisher or journal in question: Beall’s List (, which contains blacklisted publishers and journals, as well as so-called hijacked journals; and PubPeer, a popular, anonymous database that allows you to search for misconduct among individual researchers.
  2. Take the time to read articles in the journal that you’re interested in and research the journal itself. There should be absolutely no obvious spelling or grammar mistakes in the journal. Publishers’ websites should be easy to navigate, transparent in terms of contact names and methods, and shouldn’t crash or suffer from ongoing technical problems. Also, legitimate open access journals are always transparent and clear about their peer-review processes and author fees. A short peer-review process and sudden request for fees are signs of a predatory journal.
  3. Cross-industry coalitions have started ventures to protect against deceptive journals, and universities are doing much more with committees and codes to stop deceptive practices compared to three or four years ago. For basic advice, refer to the site (although a default attitude of “think, check, don’t submit” might serve you better).
  4. Search Journal Citation Reports, published by Thomson Reuters, to confirm claimed impact factors.
  5. Avoid using journal “whitelists” because such lists and indexes weren’t created for the purpose of conferring legitimacy. For instance, the Directory of Open Access Journals and the Thomson Reuters Master Journal List (which provides a list of journals appearing in at least one of 24 indexes) are legitimate operations, but their lists contain many predatory journals. Ditto for Scopus, Science Citation Index and other academic lists, citation databases and indexes.
  6. Don’t be fooled by a journal’s association with legitimate businesses, codes and committees. The scholarly publishing industry is doing a poor job of policing itself and legitimate companies, such as firms that sell software and agencies that distribute ISSN numbers, offer services and licenses to almost anyone, including predatory publishers. For example, although the Committee on Publication Ethics, or COPE, contains more than 10,000 members worldwide and provides advice on how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct, many of its members are from predatory journals.