Predatory Publishing

Here you will find information on unethical and fraudulent publication practices of supposedly academic publishers.

What is predatory publishing?

Predatory publishing refers to fraudulent publication practices by supposedly academic publishers. Predatory journals use aggressive methods to recruit authors for submissions. Appropriate quality control (e.g. through peer review) of the submitted articles is not carried out. The articles published in predatory journals are often not permanently available or referenced in relevant scientific databases. This means that they cannot be reliably found by other researchers or the interested public.

At so-called predatory conferences, researchers are invited to supposed specialist conferences that do not meet any academic standards.

Safeguarding good research practice and predatory publishing

Predatory journals take advantage of the increasing pressure on young researchers to publish. They violate international standards of good research practice by publishing unverified or insufficiently reviewed and sometimes questionable content. In doing so, they undermine the credibility of academic research. Publishing in predatory journals can damage the reputation of researchers, even if the article published is of high quality. Caution is also required when responding to and citing articles from predatory journals.

How to recognize predatory journals?

Predatory journals pretend to be reputable publication outlets. They are not always recognizable as fraudulent at first glance. The title and website of these journals often resemble reputable journals. In addition, a journal impact factor or a renowned editorial board may be faked to give the appearance of high quality. Predatory journals usually contact potential authors via email (sometimes without addressing them by name and often without direct reference to the addressee's field of study). The promise to publish an article within a very short timeframe is also typical.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists open access journals that follow good editorial practice. A list of criteria for identifying potential predatory journals is provided by the Think. Check. Submit. initiative. The most important criteria include

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
  • Are the articles from the journal listed in the bibliographic databases relevant to your subject (e.g. Web of Science or PubMed)? Can you easily find the most recent articles?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the publisher?
  • Does the journal provide clear information about its peer review process?
  • Is it clear what costs will be charged?
  • Is the editorial board made up of renowned researchers in your field?
  • Is the publisher a member of a recognized initiative, such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) or the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA)?

Predatory journals can often only be identified by adding up several negative features. An evaluation should therefore always be nuanced and case-specific. If in doubt, talk to your colleagues or contact the staff at the University Library.

Measures against predatory publishing

The University Library highly values established quality control processes (e.g. peer review) when selecting and providing access to journals. These criteria also apply to the university's open access publication fund. Freiburg researchers can only apply for APC funding for publications that appear in open access journals that take documented measures of quality control.

University of Freiburg