Predatory Publishing

Predatory Publishing


Open access publishing has almost become the standard in the last 10 years enabling free access to scientific publications for researchers, political decision-makers and society in general. This positive progress has unfortunately also led to some unexpected negative developments in its implementation, such as the rapid rise of so-called ‘predatory publishers’.

Predatory journals and their publishers are ‘entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.’[1]

[1]              The international consensus definition taken from Grudniewicz et al. (2019). “Predatory journals: no definition, no defence”. Nature 576, 210-212.

Identifying legitimate open access journals

There is currently no centralised global or European authentication system for academic publishers and journals that ensures that the basic requirements of professionalism and financial transparency are met. However, there are some specific recommendations and tools which may help authors verify the quality of publishing services:

  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) database is a good starting point for finding open access journals that follow reputable practices.
  • The Think-Check-Submit initiative provides tools to help researchers find trustworthy journals.
  • The Journal Comparison Service from cOAlition S provides a platform that improves price transparency for publishers, libraries and funding agencies.
  • The State and University Library (SuUB) advises all researchers at the University of Bremen regarding the open access publication process and can provide support in researching legitimate publishers.

If you are suspicious of publishers or conferences, the Open Access team at the SuUB will be happy to help you with further research:

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Predatory Conferences

Konferenz Sprecher mit Publikum

With the rise of fraudulent behaviour in the publishing industry, many predatory publishers have expanded their business models to generate additional profits from predatory conferences. At first glance, such conferences may appear to be respectable and scientifically sound events, but they often offer no real scientific value. These conferences are organised by companies whose sole aim is to make money from the conference fees.

The following list may provide an initial indication of whether a conference is predatory:

  • Neither you nor your colleagues or superiors have heard about this conference before.
  • Very fast acceptance procedures for conference papers or abstracts are advertised.
  • The peer review process and/or the publication of conference papers are not clearly described.
  • Publications from previous conference years cannot be found in any of the usual scientific sources.
  • The title of the conference is extremely broad.
  • The programme details are presented in an unstructured way and may be incomplete.
  • You are invited to the conference by e-mail, possibly even as a keynote speaker.
  • Neither you, or anyone in your circle, has ever attended the conference.
  • The conference website is unprofessional and important information is missing.
  • The fees charged are very different from the average and are often hidden.
  • A beautiful conference environment is prominently advertised (including holiday resorts or conferences on cruise ships).
  • Prominent people from academia are advertised.
  • The conference is supported by a large number of above-average sponsors, who are often unrelated to the conference theme.
  • An online search for ‘predatory conference <conference name>’ or ‘predatory conference <organiser>’ results in hits and testimonials.

Further recommendations and tools to help authors check the reliability of scientific conferences:

  • The Think-Check-Attend initiative provides tools to help researchers find legitimate conferences.
  • The State and University Library (SuUB) advises researchers at the University of Bremen with regards to open access publishing and can provide support in searching for legitimate conferences.