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Copyright & Publishing: Publishing

Assessing Journal Quality

What is Predatory Publishing?

Predatory publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. They offer to quickly publish an article, so long as the researcher pays a fee. Many predatory publishers claim to enforce peer review but instead publish articles immediately upon receipt of author’s fees.

What are some techniques that predatory publishers employ?

Predatory publishers operate through deception. They host websites or send out e-mails that appear to derive from legitimate publishers. Often these websites and e-mails will mention impact factors or members of editorial boards to give the appearance of legitimacy, while they do not truly have an impact factor or have never asked the named faculty to serve on their boards. Predatory journal titles will often include titles very similar to well-established and respected journals, often adding “International” Journal of..., “American” Journal of..., or other terms to subtly change the title. Many predatory publishers target junior faculty or graduate students. Some will even personalize e-mails, citing earlier works by the addressee in hopes of seeming more believable.

Other predatory publishers "hijack" journals, creating counterfeit websites for already-existing, legitimate journals. These websites make money by asking unsuspecting academics to pay a fee to publish in them.

More information about hijacked journals can be found in the following article:

Jalalian, M., & Dadkhah, M. (2015). The full story of 90 hijacked journals from August 2011 to June 2015. Geographica Pannonica, 19(2), 73–87.

What do some of these solicitations or websites look like?

Examples of publishers and Journals considered predatory:

How can I determine if a journal is predatory?

While no method is fool-proof, there are some things to look for when evaluating a journal:

  • Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
  • Check that a journal’s editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
  • Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees.
  • Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members. 
  • Read some of the journal’s published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experience.
  • Check that a journal’s peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct.
  • Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.
  • Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks fishy, proceed with caution.

You may also choose to look at Beall’s List, a list compiled and maintained by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. It lists “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers ( and journals ( When researching whether a specific journal or publisher appears on Beall’s list, it is often useful to use Google and search “site:” followed by the name of the journal or publisher in question. This will allow you to search both publishers and journals at the same time, rather than having to explore both sections of Beall’s List. Beall's List also maintains a list of hijacked journals along with their authentic counterparts that can help you identify counterfeits.

I’ve been approached by a predatory publisher.  How should I handle it?

If you’ve been asked to submit a journal article or to edit an issue of the journal, DO NOT RESPOND. Do your own research as to what journals you wish to publish in, and do not be lured in by these offers of rapid publication.

If you do feel the need to respond, you may choose to cite the journal’s inclusion in Beall’s List. If you are not entirely convinced, you may allow the journal to plead its case and explain why it does not believe it should be included on Beall’s List. However, be cautious when reading their response; some journals have been fallaciously claiming that Jeffrey Beall is offering to remove their journal from his list for a fee, which is patently untrue.  

If you find that your name has been listed as the editor or on the board of one of these journals without your consent, you may need to take action. You can try contacting the journal directly, but this often has little effect. Your reputation is at stake. One possible option is to have your university’s legal department contact the journal on your behalf, which has had success for some researchers.

Evaluating/Ranking Content


Evaluates impact and cost effectiveness of journals.  Uses citation data from Journal Citation Reports (JCR).  Rankings include both an Eigenfactor score (measures importance to scientific community) and Article Influence score (average influence of article within 5 years after publication, similar to the Impact Factor in JCR). Learn more about Eigenfactor.

Journal Citation Reports

Part of Thomson's Web of Science, this tool ranks the relative importance of science and social science journals within their subject categories using citation data. Allows you to identify the most frequently cited, highest impact or largest journals in a given field.  The older version of JCR can be found at Journal Citation Reports

Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory

Bibliographic database providing detailed, comprehensive, and authoritative information on serials published throughout the world. It covers all subjects, and includes publications that are published regularly or irregularly and are circulated free of charge or by paid subscription.

Cabell's Directories

Access Cabell's Directories in Accounting, Economics & Finance, Management, Marketing, Educational Curriculum & Methods, Educational Psychology & Administration, and Educational Technology & Library Science to see journal-specific publishing information about type of peer review, number of external reviewers, acceptance rate, fees, etc.

World Press Encyclopedia

Arranged by country, entries include the number and type of media, press laws, censorship issues, and state-press relations for 200 countries.

Book Publication/Library Holdings

WorldCat Identities

Combines information from WorldCat and Amazon to create a profile for an author, including a publication timeline, list of author's publications, number of libraries holding a particular publication, reviews of the publication, and publication details.

Cited References

Web of Science (MU database)

Current and retrospective multidisciplinary information from approximately 8,700 journals. Miami subscribes to three of the Thomson database products, Science Citation Index (1965-present), Social Sciences Citation Index (1965-present), Arts & Humanities Citation Index (1975-present). The unique feature of Web of Science is the cited reference search, where you can look up an article and see how many times it has been cited. h-index is also calculated for authors.


ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-based effort to provide a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers.  ORCID reaches across disciplines, research sectors, and national boundaries.  ORCID also can help unite other unique IDs, like Web of Science's ResearchID.

Google Scholar & Google Scholar Citations

Search by author to get links to publications citing works by that author or search by article title to get links to publications citing the particular article. Searches scholarly publications on the web as identified by Google Scholar.  Citations provides a simple way for authors to keep track of citations to their articles. You can check who is citing your publications, graph citations over time, and compute several citation metrics. You can also make your profile public, so that it may appear in Google Scholar results when people search for your name.

Publish or Perish

Free downloadable software that retrieves and analyzes citations from Google Scholar, Publish or Perish is designed for academics to use to demonstrate the impact of their research when applying for promotion, tenure, or a job.  Searches provide statistics for a number of factors that demonstrate faculty productivity, including:

  • Total number of papers

  • Total number of citations

  • Average number of citations per paper

  • Average number of citations per author

  • Average number of papers per author

  • Average number of citations per year

MUL Online Journals