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Information about Open Access (OA) publishing
Last Updated: Sep 26, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Predatory Open Access Print Page

What is "Predatory" Open Access?

Predatory publishers "publish counterfeit journals to exploit the open-access model in which the author pays. These predatory publishers are dishonest and lack transparency. They aim to dupe researchers, especially those inexperienced in scholarly communication. They set up websites that closely resemble those of legitimate online publishers, and publish journals of questionable and downright low quality. Many purport to be headquartered in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Australia but really hail from Pakistan, India or Nigeria." Nature. 2012 Sept. 13; 489(7415): 179.


Determining if a Publication is Legitimate

While there is no single criterion for evaluating the reputation and legitimacy of a publication, consider the following when determining whether or not to submit an article to a journal:

  • Is the publication sponsored by a well-known organization?  Organizations that are well known (American Heart Association, American Society of Virology, etc.) are typically legitimate. Be careful, because a predatory publisher may use a name that is very similar to an existing organization. Ask your colleagues in your department about any organization with which you are not familiar.

  • Is the exact journal title found in Journal Citation Reports or the National Library of Medicine catalog?  Many predatory publishers create a title that is very close to an original title.

Journal Citation Reports is in the ISI Web of Knowledge database: ( and is highly selective. (To use this database you must be on campus or at home on the VPN This database will also give an Impact Factor to show how influential the journal is within an area of clinical medicine or basic science. If the journal is in this database, then it is legitimate.


 National Library of Medicine Catalog (

There are several types of materials now in PubMed. Some vetted by the National Library of Medicine and indexed for Medline are high quality journals.  Others may be questionable. If it is “Currently indexed for MEDLINE” then the journal is legitimate and you may have no further concerns. 

If you have concerns on the legitimacy of a conference or if the journal to which you are submitting your article is not found in either of these databases, contact the Department of Medical Library Science faculty at to verify that the conference or publication is legitimate.

For more information, see the following articles:

Dadkhah M, Lagzian M, Borchardt G. Questionable papers in citation databases as an issue for literature review. Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling. 2017;11(2):181-185.

Hansoti B, Langdorf MI, Murphy LS. Discriminating Between Legitimate and Predatory Open Access Journals: Report from the International Federation for Emergency Medicine Research Committee. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2016;17(5):497-507.

Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, Clark J, Galipeau J, Roberts J, Shea BJ. BMC Med. 2017 Mar 16;15(1):28.

For more information on legitimate open access process and government mandates regarding open access, go to and to bookmark this information for quick access in the future go to the Predatory Open Access LibGuide created by the Medical Library faculty

For other information check out:

Grand Valley State University has an excellent list of quality indicators for journals.

Thomas Jefferson University, Scott Memorial Library offers a Predatory Publishing guide.

For questions about the legitimacy of publications

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