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Scholarly Communications: "Predatory" Publishers & Conferences

This guide provides useful information on scholarly publishing, such as finding the best journal, author identity, or promoting publications and communications.

Useful Resources and Guides

The following links contain some useful checklists and examples of questionable publication venues:

Choosing a Conference

If you are uncertain of the quality or credibility of a conference, check if the conference is hosted by a well-known research institute, university or government organisation. Predatory conferences are likely to be pitched as a single one-off occurrence, rather than an annual event - in the case of the latter you can check the previous programmes and lists of speakers to help assess the quality or significance of the conference. Determine if there is a peer review process for submissions, and if possible, what the acceptance rate is.

Often there will also be an opportunity to get your research published in the journal associated with the conference. Check whether the publication is indexed in any of the major databases in your field and examine the quality of research published in previous issues.

In some disciplines rankings of conferences are available, such as CORE (Computer Science).

Avoiding "Predatory" Publishers & Conferences

In recent years, the number of exploitative or deceptive publishers and conferences has grown. These publishers typically send unsolicited invitations to authors offering to publish their research for a substantial fee, however do not offer any of the traditional services provided by reputable publishers, such as editing, peer-review, archiving and marketing. 

It is strongly recommended that authors verify the credentials of any publisher to whom they are considering submitting their work. Consider the following before submitting your manuscript:

  • How long has the journal been in existence? How extensive is the available archive of back issues?
  • Examine the quality of research published within the journal in previous issues
  • Does the publisher provide full and transparent details of the peer review and editorial process?
  • Is the journal indexed in major academic databases e.g. JSTOR, Scopus, Web of Science etc. or the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)? Some may claim to be, but in reality are not, so it is important to verify this.
  • Ask your colleagues if they have published in or are familiar with the publication. 

Think, Check, Submit also has a useful checklist you can use when assessing the quality of a publication venue.

If you are in any doubt regarding the credentials of a particular journal or publishers, consult the Library for further advice.

Video created by Claire Sewell, University of Cambridge Office of Scholarly Communications. Used under CC-BY licence.

Example of a typical email from a potentially deceptive publisher

Below is an example of an email received from a questionable publisher (specific details regarding the journal have been anonymised). The journal claims to have a Journal Impact factor of 1.315 but is not actually listed in the Journal Citation Reports database of impact factors. Such publishers may claim a journal is indexed in a particular database when it is not, so researchers are advised to check the database in question to verify these claims.