Predatory publishers, also known as deceptive publishers or write-only publishers, are for-profit publishers that do not follow best practices for scholarly publications. Typically, they offer to publish your work for a fee but do not offer any of the traditional services offered by publishers like editing, peer-review, archiving, or marketing.
Although predatory publishers will publish your work, it is not necessarily the type of publication that one wants to be associated with. Predatory publishers are notorious for publishing work without ensuring its quality, which is incredibly important in academia and other fields. Being associated with a journal known for publishing poor or false research can negatively affect your and your work's reputation. That is why it is best to avoid predatory publishers altogether.
It can be difficult to know which publishers are predatory publishers. That is why researchers should evaluate every journal they consider for submission. There are several factors to consider when evaluating a journal:
The editorial board – Who is on the journal's editorial board? What are their credentials?
The publisher – What is the organization or corporation associated with publishing the journal? Are they well known and reputable, or obscure?
Publication history – Has there been previous issues of the journal? If yes, what has the quality of the writing, citation, and marketing been like? Do previous articles match the journal’s title and scope?
Public discussion – What do other scholars have to say about the journal and publisher online or in your network?
The submission review process – What is their submission review process, if any? Do they promise that publication is guaranteed?
How you found the journal – How did you find the journal yourself? Or did the publisher approach you to ask for a submission?
Journals that meet several of the following criteria can likely be assumed to be predatory and should be avoided:
No editorial board or an editorial board with individuals whose credentials cannot be easily found.
An obscure publishing organization with little to no history or link to the field.
A history of publishing articles that do not match their title or scope.
A history of publishing articles with poor writing and citation.
Poor or no reputation in the academic or legal community.
Requirements stating that authors need to pay a submission fee upon initial submission.
A publication-guaranteed policy, promising that every journal submitted will be published.
An outreach marketing method, meaning they have reached out to yourself or other researchers asking for a submission.
Queen’s University Library’s Predatory Publisher’s Checklist - Adapted from the University of Toronto Libraries’ Identifying Deceptive Publishers Checklist, this research guide provides researchers with a list of all aspects they should evaluate to determine a publication’s efficacy.
Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing – the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) have identified principles of transparency and best practice for scholarly publications. These principles can be used to evaluate a publisher or journal to determine if it is predatory or not.