Skip to Main Content

Open Access: Predatory Journals

What are predatory journals?

Predatory, also known as fake, journals are not legitimate academic journals and do not provide standard editorial practices, such as peer reviews, plagiarism checks, ethical approval reviews, and other publishing services. Predatory journals publish whatever they receive without scrutinizing manuscripts for quality and charge publication fees merely for profits.

Grudniewicz et al. (2019) put forward a definition that “Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices” (p.211).

Why should I avoid predatory journals?

Publishing in a predatory journal wastes your efforts and potentially damages your reputation. Without academic editorial practices, predatory journals publish and disseminate inaccurate scientific information. Predatory journals are viewed as untrustworthy; therefore, researchers tend to refrain from reading and citing articles published in these journals. Once you publish your articles in predatory journals, you cannot duplicate the submission to other legitimate academic journals. Please mindfully choose a suitable journal for your manuscript submission.


How can I avoid predatory journals?

To evaluate the legitimacy of an open access journal, you may consider the following questions:

  • Is the journal indexed in established databases you conduct literature searches in your subject area?
  • Does the journal provide a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for all articles?
  • Does the journal have an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)?
  • Does the journal clearly state the open access fees and licenses?
  • Is the journal affiliated with a reputable research institute or scientific society?
  • Are the editorial members well-known researchers or affiliated with reputable institutions?
  • Is the publisher well-known in your research field?

Adapted from Quality issues concerning open access journals by Open        

Tools help you avoid predatory journals and publishers

Predatory Reports is a searchable database of journals that are flagged as problematic. It develops criteria to monitor deceptive practices and applies them to evaluate journals. Each flagged journal has a report detailing potential predatory behaviors for you to form your judgment.

Click HERE for the Predatory Reports.

Think. Check. Submit. is an international initiative to help researchers identify legitimate journals and publishers. This journal checklist is designed to assist you in assessing whether a journal is suitable for your work.

Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA) aims to advance OA and promote OA best practices. Members of OASPA have been evaluated and aligned with OA best practices. You may check whether an OA publisher is an OASPA member HERE.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes community-curated OA journals. You can find high-quality, peer-reviewed journals by searching the directory.

BEALL's list suggests the potential predatory journals and publishers.

Journal metrics aims to quantify the research impact of a journal in scholarly publishing. You may check the journal metrics and use them as one of the criteria for evaluating a journal's performance. Please refer to the Library Guides HERE.

Additional Recommendations

Shen and Shah (2023) have provided a list of practical recommendations for researchers to evaluate OA journals and publishers.

  Recommendations Warnings that alert predatory behaviours
1 Read the journal’s focus and scope to confirm whether their published articles do match the stated scope Claiming a wide scope with articles accepted from any topics
Advertising international scope, but with articles published mainly by local authors and on local topics
References cited are not related to the scope of the article published
2 Look closely at the journal and its publisher to make sure they have good credentials among the research communities Misleading information: Impact Factors displayed from unknown or nonstandard services
False claims to be affiliated or listed in legitimate industry organizations such as the DOAJ, COPE, DORA etc. /societies/universities that fail verification
Displaying an ambiguous or fabricated ‘western’ address to pose as an international publisher
Geographic location of the publisher is different from the editorial board
Lack of transparency in the publisher information about the ownership and business models
3 Investigate the journal’s editorial boards or other advisory bodies to verify if they are experts in the subject areas stated in the journal’s aims and scope The expertise of the editorial boards fails to match the scope of the journal
Editorial board members listed cannot be verified with the provided credentials
Editorial board members are listed without their knowledge
Multidisciplinary scope but with an editorial board that is not sufficient to review all areas
Claiming an international focus with no international editorial board members
4 Assess the quality of the journal’s website. It should be clear, easy to navigate and contain the required information accessible from the homepage Missing or unclear information on the journal’s website about editorial process, author charges, contact details, publication ethics, etc.
Intrusive advertising: not related to the focus of journal
5 Read author guidelines with particular attention to the journal’s peer review policy and check the content the journal publishes for quality and relevance to your research field Claiming quick process for reviewing articles
Publishing articles of suspicious qualities, such as out of scope and plagiarized contents
6 Check the other services the publisher makes available to the authors Organizing conferences with promised publication in their own journals
Offering paper editing services for authors with guaranteed publications in their own journals

Shen, C., & Shah, L. (2023). Predatory publishing practices: what researchers should know before submitting their manuscript. Insights, 36, Article 19.

What is a predatory journal and why is it a problem?

Think. Check. Submit.

Need Help?

Make an appointment for the Research Consultation Service (for postgraduate students and CUHK faculty members)
WhatsApp us at 5578 8898; 9am - 5pm (Mon-Fri)
Send an email to
Phone us at 3943 7305