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UMass Amherst Libraries

Choosing Your Publisher

Find the right publisher for your work and avoid predatory publishers!

Choosing Your Publisher

To which publisher you choose to submit your work may depend on several factors:

  • alignment between your work and the scope or coverage of the publisher's list, imprint or journal;
  • the reputation in your field of the publisher's list, imprint or journal;
  • the terms under which the publisher will publish your work, e.g. who has rights control over the use and reuse of your work, payments, etc.;
  • the peer review or research verification services provided;
  • editorial, marketing and distribution services provided;
  • potential financial costs.

While it has been argued that there is no "bright line" that demarcates a predatory publisher, there are publisher practices which suggest fraudulent or unethical approaches. COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) defines predatory publishing as:

"the systemic for-profit publication of purportedly scholarly content (in journals and articles, monographs, books or conference proceedings) in a deceptive or fraudulent way without any regard for quality assurance."

COPE provides a useful list of warning signs of fake journals (p.6-7), based on the 16 Principles of Transparency. If multiple factors are questionable, see a red flag!

1. Website: The journal’s website contains misleading or false information (eg, indexing, metrics, membership of scholarly publishing organisations), lacks an ISSN or uses one that has already been assigned to another publication, mimics another journal/publisher’s site, or has no past or recent journal content.

2. Name of journal: The journal name is the same as or easily confused with that of another; scope, or association. 

3. Peer review process: Peer review and peer review process and model are not mentioned, or manuscript acceptance or a very short peer review time is guaranteed. Submitted manuscripts receive inadequate or no peer review.

4. Ownership and management: Information about the ownership and/or management is missing, unclear, misleading, or false.

5. Governing body: Information on the editorial board is missing, misleading, false, or inappropriate for the journal; full names and affiliations of editorial board members are missing.

6. Editorial team/contact information: Full names and affiliations of the journal’s editor/s and full contact information for the editorial office are missing, the editor-in-chief is also the owner/publisher, or the editor-in-chief is also the editor of many other journals, especially in unrelated fields.

7. Copyright and licensing: Policies and notices of copyright (and publishing licence and user licence) are missing or unclear.

8. Author fees: Mandatory fees for publication are not stated or not explained clearly on the journal website, submission system, or the letter of acknowledgement and/or are revealed only in the acceptance letter, as a condition of acceptance.

9. Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: There is no description on how cases of alleged misconduct are handled.

10. Publication ethics: There are no policies on publishing ethics (eg, authorship/contributorship, data sharing and reproducibility, intellectual property, ethical oversight, conflicts of interest, corrections/retractions).

11. Publishing schedule: The periodicity of publication is not indicated and/or the publishing schedule appears erratic from the available journal content.

12. Access: The way(s) in which content is available to readers, and any associated costs, is not stated, and in some cases listed articles are not available at all.

13. Archiving: There is no electronic backup and preservation of access to journal content (despite such claims).

14. Revenue sources: Business models, business partnerships/agreements, or revenue sources are not stated; publishing fees or waiver status are linked to editorial decision making.

15. Advertising: Advertising policy is not given, or advertisements are linked to editorial decision making or are integrated with published content.

16. Direct marketing: Direct marketing is obtrusive and gives misleading or false information.

Your scholarly reputation, the impact of your research, and the wider functionality and sustainability of scholarship ecosystems are affected by your choices. As you consider your options, it may be helpful to work with these tools: