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Open Access and Open Educational Resources

Avoiding Predatory Publishers

Predatory publishers are organizations that charge money for open access publishing while offering very little in the way of peer review and editing. 

Here are some characteristics to look for. Remember that any of these on their own might not be cause for concern, but if a publisher exhibits several of these, it may best be avoided.

  • pay to publish - many journals charge authors for publishing; what you are looking for here is a charge with very little return in the form of quality review and editing.
  • article quality - browse through articles published in previous issues to assess their quality
  • wide disciplinary coverage - although not a concern all on its own (think Elsevier or Wiley), if the titles all sprang up relatively recently and in close proximity to each other, that could cause concerns about quality and expertise.
  • web sites - look for misspellings, poor grammar
  • vague information - lack of detail about publisher and/or peer review process, scant author instructions
  • database indexing - look to see if PubMed, CINAHL, or another reputable database includes articles from the journal
  • library subscriptions - look at to see how many libraries subscribe to the journal (use the search box below)

How many libraries subscribe to the journal?

Search for an item in libraries near you: >>

Finding High Quality Open Access Publishers

A couple of directories of open access publications have taken on the job of acting as gatekeepers.  If a journal appears on one of these lists, it has been vetted, to a certain extent.  Although they can make mistakes, this may be a good place to start your investigation. But beware. Not all predatory journals are open access. You will need to evaluate any journal before submitting for publication.


Directory of Open Access Journals


Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

Articles of Interest

Kolata, G. (2017, October 30). Many academics are eager to publish in worthless journals. The New York Times. Retrieved from 

Butler, D. (2013, March 27). Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing. Nature, 495, 433-435.

Stratford, M. (2012, March 4). 'Predatory' online journals lure scholars who are eager to publish. Chronicle of Higher Education.

Johnson, C.Y. (2013, October 3). Bogus science paper accepted by dozens of journals.