How to Avoid Predatory Journals

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Predatory journals are a  real menace in academic publishing. 

Having first appeared in the early 2000s, the number of predatory journals continues to increase and today becomes a major concern among researchers and genuine academic publishers. 

There are tens of thousands of academic journals in the world today, and predatory journals possibly make up as much as 25%-30% of the total. A truly worrying scenario. 

How to avoid predatory journals

Due to rigorous publishing demand, many academics and researchers fall prey and publish their works in predatory journals. The problem is that predatory journals are not recognized by many academic institutions, hence those publishing in these journals do not get the credit due. 

In the end, many academics found themselves unable to get promotions and make advancements in their career. 

What are Predatory Journals?

Predatory journals are journals that charge authors to publish their work but do not provide the same level of quality control as legitimate academic journals. 

Predatory journals are essentially publishing outlets that prioritize profit over the quality and integrity of scientific research. These journals often deceive researchers by falsely claiming to be legitimate and peer-reviewed, while in reality, they lack rigorous peer review processes and proper editorial standards.

The main motive behind predatory journals is financial gain. They typically charge researchers hefty fees for publishing their work, sometimes without even conducting proper reviews or editorial processes. These journals may also engage in unethical practices like spamming researchers with email invitations to submit papers, promising quick publication with minimal scrutiny.

One of the main reasons predatory journals continue to flourish is due to publishing demand by the employer or institution. In order to advance in their career, an academic is required to meet a certain number of publication requirements, mostly in recognized journals and reputable publishers. 

However, publishing in recognized journals is a difficult, tedious and often long process. Due to resources (e.g., such as limited personnel, difficulty in finding reviewers, etc.), the process from submitting a journal manuscript to the eventual publication can take years. Authors lose a lot in that time-consuming process. 

Therefore, offers by predatory journals like fast publishing turnaround and seemingly legitimate journal metrics (e.g., manipulated impact factor) encourage academics to turn to these unethical publishers.   

Why Publishing in Predatory Journals is Bad

Predatory journals can damage the reputation of researchers who publish in them. Because these journals do not have a rigorous peer review process, articles published in them may not be accurate or well-written. This can reflect poorly on the researchers who publish in them, and it can make it difficult for them to get their work published in legitimate journals.

Additionally, these journals can harm the integrity of the scientific record. By publishing articles that have not been properly peer-reviewed, predatory journals can make it difficult to distinguish between good and bad research. This can make it difficult for researchers to make informed decisions about which research to trust.

Another concerning risk is that predatory journals can contribute to the spread of misinformation. Because they do not have a rigorous peer review process, predatory journals can publish articles that are not accurate or well-supported by evidence. This can lead to the spread of misinformation, which can have negative consequences for society.

How to Avoid Predatory Journals

To avoid predatory journals, authors need to identify characteristics that include including turnaround time, fees, peer review process, editorial team, database listing and publishing practices. 

Turnaround time

Predatory journals often have a fast turnaround time for publication. A manuscript submitted to a predatory journal can be published within a week, even days. The unreasonable speed is already a red flag itself. An author should check information about the submission process from a journal’s website and where necessary, contact the journal office. 


Fees incurred by these journals are expensive, in the thousands of dollars. However, fees alone would not, by default, classify an academic journal as predatory, since legitimate journals also charge considerable article processing fees. 

Peer review

Peer review is a crucial process in academic publishing, but it is also a process that takes the longest time. Therefore, predatory journals win authors’ hearts by simply excluding the process. Without peer review, publishing a journal paper within days is not unusual.    

Editorial team

By scrutinizing the journal’s editorial team, a researcher would be able to tell if a journal is made up of qualified and legitimate experts. Each editorial team member should have a link to their profile. Check out this profile, and assess the suitability of the so-called experts. The most important would be the chief editor or editor-in-chief. An academic or author would recognize if the editor-in-chief is the right expert to lead the journal by assessing the credentials and the institution they come from.  

Database listing

Legitimate and high-impact journals are often indexed in reputable academic journal databases. These include the Web of Science, Scopus and other specialty databases tailored to the journal’s own niche and specialization. But this goes without saying that some predatory journals did make a successful entry into these databases, and the database operator has to make frequent reassessments of the journals indexed in their database.   

Publishing practices

Good academic journals also make public their publishing practices that include workflow transparency, how they resolve disputes and how they deal with unethical authors. The information should be available on their website. And since authors are already browsing their websites, they should also scrutinize other information that includes completeness of website details, contact details accuracy and editorial-related information. 


For all of these reasons, predatory journals are a worrying problem in the academic world, and avoiding these predatory journals can require some meticulous effort. Researchers should be aware of the risks of publishing in predatory journals, and they should take all the necessary steps to prevent them from becoming prey. 

Publishing in predatory journals can have serious consequences. Researchers may face reputational damage because their work is associated with low-quality or dubious publications. It’s a losing situation for unsuspecting authors. Moreover, the lack of rigorous peer review means that the research itself may not be reliable or valid, undermining scientific progress.