Predatory Publishing

Predatory Publishing

Predators in scholarly communication are commercial entities posing as service providers to the scientific community. However, their sole purpose is to generate profit through the collection of publication / conference fees, without adhering to established standards of scientific communication and publishing ethics.

Predatory Journals and Publishers

Predatory journals / publishers misuse the paid open journals model and benefit from publication fees without complying with established standards of scientific publishing.

Characteristics of a predatory journal / publisher

  • Peer review is only formal or is missing entirely.
  • They accept any text in return for payment, regardless ot its quality and contribution.
  • They do not compy with established publication standars and ethics.
  • They misuse the titles of prestigious and well-established journals or choose general and vague titles without any specification of a particular field.
  • They do not provide specific contact details (often only a non-personalized e-mail or a contact form is available), they do not provide clear information about publication fees, peer review, internal processes, etc.
  • They provide a list of fake names of the editorial board members or, conversely, names of well-known and prominent scientists, but without their knowledge and consent.
  • They state the Impact Factor and the SJR, despite the journal not having the metrics and not being indexed in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) and Scopus.
  • They present fictitious quality indicators (e.g. Universal Impact Factor, Global Impact Factor, Journal Impact Factor, etc.).
  • They aggressively and intrusively reach out to potential authors and call for them to publish via unsolicited e-mails.
  • The composition of an editorial board of predatory publishers is often the same or almost identical for more than one journal.


How to avoid predatory journals / publishers?

  • For unknown or new journals / publishers, pay attention to quality verification, carefully evaluate whether the journal / publisher shows characteristics of predatory journals/publishers.
  • On the ISSN Portal, check whether the journal actually exists, what is the journal’s ISSN and its official website.
  • Check the information provided on the pages of the journal (e.g. whether there is an institution listed as a publisher, whether information on publication fees is given, who is a member of the editorial board, etc.).
  • Check if the journal actually has a reported impact factor (in Journal Citation Reports - JCR) or SJR (in Scopus).
  • Check that the journal is indexed in the databases it claims to be on its website (access paid databases via the CU Electronic Resources Portal).
  • See if any of your colleagues have published in the journal and ask about personal experience.


Beware of MDPI journals!

Think. Check. Submit

Beall's List (The blog was closed in January 2017, but the content is available via Internet Archive)

Beware also of the Vanity press and the Academic author mill.

Questionable bibliometric measures

Predatory Conferences

Predatory conferences (bogus conferences, fake conferences or predatory meetings) pretend to be legitimate scientific conferences, but their purpose is to profit from registration fees without any qualitative contribution to the scientific community. This unfair practice often abuses the need to participate in international conferences of beginning scientists.

Predatory conferences take two forms:

  1. The conference does not take place at all
  2. The conference takes place, but in inadequate quality

Characteristics of a predatory conferences

  • They are to take place in tourist attractive destinations (Paris, Dubai, Rome, Tokyo, etc.)
  • In the title they use general words like global, international, etc.
  • Invitations and communication with the organizers contain numerous grammatical errors and typos
  • Invitations are sent as unsolicited e-mails (SPAM) or via private messages on social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
  • Invitations are sent from a public email account without affiliation to the institution (Gmail, Hotmail etc.)
  • In the invitation you are asked to invite your colleagues to the conference (also for active participation)
  • You are invited to a conference of a topic that does not match your area of research and expertise
  • The conference deals with a large number of thematic areas without any logical connection between them
  • The conference takes place only online (so-called virtual conference) - NOTE: in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, even legitimate conferences move into the online environment
  • Important dates change frequently and repeatedly (submission of abstracts, conference date, registration deadline)
  • The conference is preceded by an unusual process of accepting a paper (without a selection and review procedure)
  • The method of payment of the registration fee is different from payment by credit card with a non-refundable policy, i.e. in case of cancellation it does not return the money or returns it in the form of credit to another of their conferences
  • The conference organizer provides false information about indexing or affiliation to a major publisher or service
  • Information about the conference programme is unclear and changes frequently
  • The invitation email states "you are invited" in the subject line
  • The organizer will send you a certificate of participation after paying the registration fee

How to avoid predatory conferences?

  • Check the identity of the conference organizer to see if it is a predatory publisher
  • Assess whether the given conference does not show characteristics of a predatory conference
  • If the conference organizer reports indexing in known databases or services, verify that it is truly searchable

Other specific steps are provided the application Think. Check. Attend.

"What are 'predatory' conferences and how can I avoid them?" A. Nobese

MDPI publishing - Recommendation of Vice-Dean for Science and Research

Not all MDPI journals are necessarily bad, and if an article goes through a standard review process, there is no reason why the article should be considered ethically controversial a priori. On the other hand, the MDPI does not have a good reputation and can potentially harm the authors themselves (for example in the habilitation procedure) and possibly the FSV UK. So directly banning in the MDPI is not possible, but some quality control by the institute is appropriate.

Vice-Dean's recommendation:

1) Publishing in MDPI journals is not recommended.

2) If authors still publish in MDPI and want to report the result to the RIV, they should be prepared to document the procedure of the review procedure and communication with the journal.

2022 – Analysis of Charles University authors’ publications in MDPI journals

In response to the increasing number of publications of Charles University authors in journals published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), the Support Centre, in conjunction with the Science and Research Department of Charles University’s Rectorate, analysed these publications in MDPI journals. This analysis was presented to the Rector’s Collegium and the Extended Rector’s Collegium in
early 2022.

Data on the publishing activity of the university’s authors, including financial aspects, is detailed in a separate bibliometric analysis attached to this document.
 As at 30 November 2022, Charles University ended its membership of MDPI’s Institutional
Open Access Program (IOAP), meaning that Charles University’s authors no longer qualify for
the discount that came with this membership.

2023 – Recommendations of the KHV (Research Organisations Evaluation Committee) on publishing in MDPI journals

While the KHV does not question the quality of some MDPI journals – especially those that
were launched more than a decade ago, are established in their field, and often rank in the
first quartile of their respective disciplines – we note that MDPI’s practice of publishing an
inordinate number of special issues is questionable. The KHV urges caution both when
submitting papers for these special issues and, in particular, when accepting invitations to
edit special MDPI issues. In the future, the KHV will attempt to monitor the publishing of
papers in special MDPI issues as an additional auxiliary factor  in the bibliometric evaluation
of the results of research organisations. 

Not sure if the magazine you've chosen is trustworthy?