Unethical and exploitative predatory publishers and conferences prey on academics, usually by requiring authors to pay expensive fees to publish or present their research. These venues offer opportunities to communicate your research, but provide little or no peer-review, editorial oversight, quality control, or any of the other mechanisms that ensure rigorous academic standards are met.
New technologies and evolving models of engaged and networked scholarship are effective tools you can use to share and promote your research, through online journals, books, conferences, and other venues. However, you must be critical about where you share your scholarship. Predatory publishers recruit submissions through unsolicited e-mails, offer quick turnaround, and may even flatter you as part of their plan to convince you to publish or present with them. If you're an academic or published author, you've probably already received these invitations. The following tips will help you to identify and avoid predatory practices.
These are some key questions to ask when you are evaluating the legitimacy of a journal, conference, or publisher. Click on a heading to see details about asking and answering each question.
Students and early career researchers: While academics at all phases of their careers are vulnerable to predatory practices, the immediate need to build your scholarship program and advance your career makes you a particular target, especially as you are still exploring the important publishers and conferences in your field. Be extra vigilant, and when in doubt contact your subject librarian for help with evaluating a publisher.
Everyone is responsible: We require academic honesty from our students, so faculty and administrators must hold themselves to even higher standards. Don't be complicit in predatory practices by ignoring the problem; you have a responsibility to combat it before it happens, and to flag it for attention when you see it. This is a great opportunity for education and awareness.
Faculty evaluation, tenure, promotion, and grant committees: You are in a position of power when you're evaluating the scholarship of others, and your decision may affect someone's whole career. If you spot predatory practices among those you're reviewing, don't immediately assume that the author is aware of the situation. Be mindful that some predatory practices are unintentional; it's very possible that the author was tricked into working with a suspect publisher without realizing. Communicating with the author may create an opportunity to understand the situation and make improvements.
You think you contributed to a predatory publisher or conference: Don't panic! You have rights as an author and some ability to enforce those rights. Issue a retraction or withdrawal notice to the publisher as soon as possible, requiring that they remove all record of your work. They may refuse, but you've made an effort. If it's not too late, do not pay the article process charge (APC) or open access fee; if you have, issue a charge back if you paid by personal credit card. Document all the steps you taken to resolve the situation, and be honest with your colleagues if it comes up.