Information Services

Predatory or bogus journals

Guidelines on how to spot and avoid predatory publications.

The problem

Hundreds of new open access journals are being set up by reputable publishers, scholarly societies and universities each year. It has been noted that alongside these reputable journals, a small number of pay-to-publish vanity journals are appearing. Some academic authors are being duped by submitting their research outputs to be published in these vanity journals that do not have proper quality control or peer review processes.

The risks

Publishing in a sub-standard vanity journal has the following risks:

  • No proper peer review is carried out to preserve the quality of research output.
  • Damage to the reputation of the researcher and institution.
  • Researchers and institutions lend their reputation to a disreputable publication.
  • Negative impact on the REF submission if the publication is not detected.

Some warning signs to look out for

  • Board of Editors list shows that members are not recognised in their field or are affiliated with questionable institutions; however, this must be done with caution, as Board member names may be used without their permission.
  • Journals with dubious addresses for their registered office.
  • Unsolicited email or paper communication inviting publication in journals you don't know and have never heard of.
  • Unsolicited invitations to conferences run by event managers, not professionals in the research area, often at attractive destinations.

What you can do: Think. Check. Submit.

  • Resist the temptation to publish quickly and easily in any old journal. Be aware of the publication landscape in your research area and the most reputable journals
  • Research the publisher - reference this list for your chosen journal to check if it is trusted.
  • Consult the Directory of Open Access Journals for reputable journals
  • Reputable journals typically will be listed in the Journal Citation Report (Database access via the Library)

Think. Check. Submit. is a new campaign led by representatives from organisations across the publishing industry: ALPSP, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), INASP, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), ISSN, LIBER, OASPA, UKSG and individual publishers. The aim of the campaign is to help researchers understand their options, and key criteria they can check before making an informed decision about where to submit.  

Fraudulent listing on journal editorial boards

It has come to our attention that some unreputable journals are listing UK academics names as being on their Editorial Boards without prior permission or contact. The University considers this fraudulent misrepresentation to be a very serious matter as it has the potential to damage the reputation of our staff and organisation. If you are affected by this scam, or have concerns please contact the Scholarly Communications Team who can offer advice on how to resolve the matter.

Useful links

Think. Check. Submit

Directory of Open Access Journals

Journal Citation Report (Database access via the Library)

If you are uncertain about any of the information on display here, or would like advice on a specific journal please contact one of our publications specialists who would be happy to help you.

Scholarly Communications Team

Edinburgh University Library
George Square
Edinburgh, EH8 9LJ
Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3850 or (0)131 651 5226