research in search results. How are learners, such
as high school and college students, supposed to
tell them apart? Moreover, new research builds on
already-published research, as anyone who has ever
compiled a literature review knows. Writing such
reviews now requires additional skill and more
effort, for the author now must filter out unvetted
What can be done?
Researchers and academic disciplines benefit from
open access to well-managed, high-quality journals.
So what can be done to protect the integrity of
First, researchers need to develop a “scholarly
publishing literacy” skillset to recognize and avoid
predatory publishers. Researchers can no longer
assume that all scholarly journals are trustworthy
and must be on guard against the perils of predatory
publishers. Educating graduate students, fellows and
junior faculty about predatory publishing should
become a routine part of mentoring. (See sidebar
for tips from APA staff on how to avoid predatory
Second, scholars can refuse to serve on the
editorial boards of predatory publishers, which seek
to enhance their reputations by creating affiliations
with scholars at reputable academic institutions.
Finally, the process of scholarly evaluation
must adjust to reflect the new reality of scholarly
publishing. Tenure and promotion committees must
more carefully scrutinize candidates’ publishing
records. A quick scan of a CV is no longer sufficient,
for journal titles that look authentic may not be. To
be fair to those seeking promotion and tenure, this
recommendation needs to be combined with the
first — educating scholars about appropriate venues
for scholarly publishing.
The world of publishing is quickly evolving.
Electronic media are increasingly supplanting print
media; journals are increasingly accessed through
subscription packages rather than subscriptions
to individual journals; and funding agencies and
professional associations are increasingly pushing
for free public access to scientific publications.
The challenge before us is to protect the integrity
of scholarly publishing even as we adapt to new
technologies, circumstances and demands. n
Jeffrey Beall, DSc, is a librarian at the University
of Colorado Denver. James M. Dubois, PhD, is the
director of the Center for Clinical Research Ethics at
Washington University in St. Louis.
How to avoid predatory publishers
APA staff have compiled the following list of questions to help
researchers avoid publishing in predatory journals. When you receive
an email inviting you to submit a manuscript to a scholarly journal,
• Is the email’s tone overly informal? Does it contain many
exclamation points and typos? Is the message signed by an editorial
assistant as opposed to the editor? Is the editor identified? Review the
editor’s academic home page and CV — is the journal editorship listed
• Is the journal’s website provided as part of the email? Is the
journal’s publisher clearly acknowledged in the email? Are you invited
to submit your manuscript through a generic (not journal-specific)
online peer review page or via email? Some misleading communications
purposefully exclude the journal’s website and avoid any mention of the
publisher, particularly if the journal’s name sounds like a leading journal
in the field. If the only links provided in the email are to the online
peer review system and a general editor email (e.g., JournalEditor@
[publisher].com), always search for the journal online and review its
• What is the reputation of the publisher? Does the publisher’s
website look professional? Are the publisher’s full contact details
provided clearly on every page (email, postal address, working
telephone number)? Is impact factor information presented clearly
and without qualifiers (e.g., an asterisk, with a note in fine print that
this is an “informal estimate.”) Check Beall’s List, a blog by Jeffrey Beall,
a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, tracking “potential,
possible, or probable predatory” scholarly open-access publishers
( http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/) and journals (http://scholarlyoa.
com/individual-journals/). For further reading, see Beall’s List Criteria
for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers and the page
with Hijacked Journals (when a counterfeit site is created masquerading
as an existing established journal in the field).
• Are this and other journals by this publisher covered in PsycINFO
or another research database you trust? Though inclusion in major
research databases is not an ironclad guarantee of journal or publisher
good practice, databases usually have processes in place to evaluate
and monitor their coverage. PsycINFO’s journal coverage list, which
includes the publisher information, is here: www.apa.org/pubs/
databases/psycinfo/ coverage.aspx. Be sure to search for the title of the
journal exactly as it is provided in the email. Predatory publishers often
choose a journal title that sounds similar to an established journal in the
field. Look for the publisher in coverage lists.
• If the journal is identified as “open access” in the email and/or
on the journal’s home page, is the journal’s financial model clearly
announced? Typically, the cost of publishing in open-access journals
is met through author fees. Is a note on author fees — or a statement
that there are no author fees — clearly visible in the email and on the
journal’s home page?
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, contact your university
librarian, who can help you ensure that the journal you choose for your
next article is a legitimate one.