Skip to Main Content

Publishing Opportunities

A resource guide to help undergraduate & graduate students, and faculty, discover publishing opportunities.

Understanding Predatory Publishers

What is a predatory publisher?

A predatory publisher is an opportunistic publishing venue that exploits the academic need to publish but offers little reward for those using their services.

The academic "publish or perish" scenario combined with the relative ease of website creation has inadvertently created a market ripe for the exploitation of academic authors. Some of these publishers are predatory on purpose, while others may just be making mistakes due to neglect, mismanagement, or inexperience. While the motivations and methods vary they have common characteristics:

  • Their primary goal is to make money.
  • They do not care about the quality of the work published.
  • They make false claims or promises.
  • They engage in unethical business practices.
  • They fail to follow accepted standards or best practices of scholarly publishing.

How Predatory Publishing Works

Online predatory publishers take advantage of the "author-pays" open access publication model. In this model, publication charges provide a publisher with income instead of subscriptions.

It's important to realize that publishing open access does not make a publisher predatory, their bad behavior does.

Predatory publishers exploit new publishing models by claiming to be legitimate open-access publishing operations. They make false claims (such as fast peer-review) to lure unwary authors into submitting papers. While sending a predatory publisher, a manuscript may see it "published" there is no guarantee that it underwent peer review, is included in indexes, or that it will be available in a month much less in five years.

What's the harm?

Predatory publishers do authors a disservice by claiming to be a full-service publisher. Remember, as an author you are providing a valuable product and legitimate publishers provide valuable services to protect your work. Outlined below are some of the dangers of publishing with a predatory publisher:

Your work may be subject to sub-par peer-review

The peer-review system isn't perfect, but there is a consensus that papers that undergo peer-review are better for it. If you plan to seek promotion or tenure, you want to make sure you are publishing in a place that values your work and is willing to devote time and resources to improving it.

Your work could disappear

One of the advantages of publishing with a responsible publisher is that they make commitments to preserve your work. Opportunists looking to make a quick profit are not going to care if your paper is still available in 5 years, much less tomorrow. This situation is the stuff of nightmares if you plan to go up for tenure or promotion.

Your work will be hard to find

Some predatory publishers advertise that they are included in well-known databases when they are not. While most predatory journals will probably be covered by Google Scholar,  your work won't be as visible if it's missing from other research databases.


While the repercussions of publishing with questionable publishers are still largely unknown, there have been a few documented cases where it has hurt careers.

Types of Predators:

There are four common types of predatory publishers characterized by different behaviors:


Lures you in with promises then charges substantial fees after your paper has been "accepted."


Poses as a well-established journal or as a publication associated with a well-known brand or society. Often these journals add an extra word to an existing journal name such as "Advances," "Review," or "Reports." They may often create websites that appear to be affiliated with another publication.

Trojan Horse

Has a legitimate appearing website, often with impressive lists of publications, but on closer inspection, nothing is as it seems. The journals are empty shells or populated by stolen/plagiarized articles.


Too good to be true! These publishers may, in fact, be legitimate businesses but are not providing good products or customer support/service. Common problems may include no archiving policy; missing or ill-defined peer-review criteria; and possible publishing ethics violations.

Deciding if a publisher is predatory is often a matter of evaluating publisher practices against expectations. The 10 warning signs below are evidence-based and serve as a good starting point.

Warning Signs

  1. The journal's scope of interest includes unrelated subjects alongside legitimate topics.
  2. Website contains spelling and grammar errors.
  3. Images or logos are distorted/fuzzy or misrepresented/unauthorized.
  4. Website targets authors, not readers e.g., publisher prioritizes making money over product.
  5. There is no clear description of how the manuscript is handled.
  6. Rapid publication is promoted and promised.
  7. There is no article retraction policy.
  8. There is no digital preservation plan for content.
  9. A journal that claims to be open access either retains copyright f published research or fails to mention copyright.
  10. Contact email address is non-professional and non-journal/publisher affiliated e.g., or

Other Warning Signs:

Publishing costs and fees are not openly disclosed or easy to locate.

  • It is standard practice to let authors know the cost of publication before submission. This is part of the OASPA Code of Conduct.

The peer-review process is not clearly explained or is not to discipline standards.

  • Beware of promises of quick peer-review as this can be the mark of a publisher who values profit over quality. There is concern that papers submitted to journals that advertise this type of service are not actually providing peer-review.

Advertises a Journal Impact Factor but doesn't have one.

  • Check Cabell's Blacklist or one of the internet journal impact factor websites provided in the Publishing Opportunities tab.

The publisher or journal's name is suspiciously similar to other well-know publications.

Avoiding Predators

The best way to avoid a predatory publisher is to have expectations of good services and products. Below are some examples but you should develop your own expectations.

Example expectations:

  1. Publications are regular, contain more than one article, and occur in a timely manner.
  2. Clear, easy-to-find statements on peer-review procedure and policies.
  3. Clear, easy-to-find statements on publishing charges.
  4. Clear, easy-to-find statements on which rights authors retain to their work (aka copyright transfer procedures and licensing).
  5. A digital archiving policy or statement that demonstrates a commitment to making your work available and accessible for a long time, i.e. what is their backup plan?

General Advice

  • Be cautious.
  • Do not sign anything or send payment if you are unsure.
  • Consider talking with University of Dallas Legal Counsel.

If you are suddenly appointed an article to review without your consent

  • You are under no obligation to review something that you di not volunteer for.
  • You may want to contact the publisher and notify them you did not agree to review and/or to not contact you again.
  • You can add the sender's email to your junk/spam list.

If your name is misappropriated

*Predatory publishers have been known to list people's names as editors, board members, or reviewers without their knowledge or consent.

  • Contact the journal/publisher immediately and ask that they take your name off all their materials.
  • Make it clear in other venues that you are not associated with the publication.
  • Consider talking with the University of Dallas Legal Counsel.