Avoid predatory journals and fake conferences

Avoid predatory journals

Beware - sometimes the offer to publish or participate at a conference seems too good to be true. Predatory journals and conferences come from fake or scam publishers that send phishing emails offering “open access” publication in exchange for payment, without providing sufficient editorial or publishing services. We present methods to help you avoid these predatory and fake publishers.

To distinguish legitimate journals and conferences from predatory journals and conferences, there are some useful methods. Note that none of these are adequate on their own:

Predatory and fake conferences

Most researchers receive invitations to participate at new conferences. It is temptating to accept a flattering invitation to attend a large academic conference. When arriving at the conference, the major head speakers don’t show up, the timetable is full of withdrawn submissions, and the program has a low quality. In addition to the cost of registration fees, travel and accommodation, you must take into account the wasted work. Beware if you receive a flattering invitation to attend a conference. Examine the conference and find out who is responsible.

Here are some of the signs you can look out for:

  • Conference subject and scope. Look out for conference titles that are overly ambitious, or conferences that have a broad program and include topics from a range of disciplines
  • The website: Is the language on the conference website full of misspelling and grammar mistakes? Can you easily find organiser´s contact details, or are they missing or wrong?
  • Be sceptical if another conference with almost the same name already exist
  • Frequency: If the conference is held multiple times in different cities, this can be a predatory sign

Predatory journals

Predatory journals undermine the public’s trust in science because they publish non-documented results and articles without any peer-review and quality control. In order to avoid publishing in a predatory journal please follow these steps before you decide where to submit your article.

  • Is the publisher on a “white list”? Check if the publisher is registered as scientific level 1 or 2 in the Nordic list by NSD.
  • If the publisher is not registered, you can suggest new journals and publishers for possible inclusion in the database and comment existing journals and publishers.
  • Is the publisher a member of OASPA?
  • Is the journal listed in DOAJ?
    (Or is it the list of journals removed from DOAJ?)
  • Google the editor/serie/publisher/conference. How are the comments? Try searching for the publisher’s name with the word “predatory”.
  • Does the journal have an ISSN?
  • Are articles indexed in databases like ISI Web of Science or Scopus?
  • Look out for journals where you can find no contact details, or where you can’t find the journal’s home country, misspelling and poor grammar.
  • Be aware that some of the editorial boards contains made-up names or well-known researchers whose names have been misused. Look up the websites of the researchers and see if they mention they are members of this editorial board.
  • Peer reviewing takes time: If the editor promises very quick publishing after submitting the article, it may be because they are not doing any peer reviewing, and the publisher will not be accredited by the Nordic list.

Other relevant websites

AuthorAid’s advices against predatory conferences

The Norwegian National Research Ethics committees have published ten tips to avoid predatory publishing (only in Norwegian)

Jeffrey Beall's list of predatory online journals

ThinkCheckSubmit - about predatory journals

ThinkCheckAttend - about conferences


If you have any questions, or need more information then please contact one of the Cristin-team.