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Predatory Publishers

An introduction to predatory publisher tactics and strategies for identifying and avoiding predatory publishers

Predatory Conferences

A new troubling trend is predatory conferences: elaborate fake meetings for academics that often involve empty conference centers, poor organization, and sudden payments at the cost of the scholar. While most of the steps to avoid these conferences are actually similar to rooting out predatory publishers, there are a few key differences to evaluate:

  • Do the conference organizers emphasize the academic integrity of the conference or the tourist-friendly aspects of the destination? A conference focused only on location rather than substance is a bad sign.
  • Check with the venue holding the conference. Are the events the organizers are promising fully prepared for by the venue staff? Is the venue prepared to hold the amount of people the conference claims to be hosting? 
  • Is there any indication that this conference has occurred before? While there certainly are new conferences, nearly all predatory conferences are one-off events that are quickly discovered as fake, and thus unable to go on for multiple years.
  • Is the conference not being advertised by the university, research institution, or commercial group holding it? Are they holding a huge amount of conferences at the same time, or does the organization not seem involved or related to your discipline? These are all reliable ways to pinpoint a scam. 
  • When in doubt, check with your professors or faculty advisors for advice. They will know whether or not the listed speakers are respectable, and will also have advice and opportunities for conferences they know are legitmate. 

Think, Check, Submit!

                                 Think Check Submit logo with link to its homepage

Think, Check, Submit is perhaps the most efficient guideline for detecting a predatory publisher, and is an invaluable guideline for deciding if, where, and when to publish any scholarly work. The site is available in over 15 languages and is an invaluable asset for every step of academic publishing. 

Phony vs. Legit


Infographic explaining the differences between phony and legit publishing.

When attempting to discern between phony and legit publishing, be on the lookout for the following warning signs of predatory publishers:


  • Little/suspicious contact information
  • Amatuer page design
  • Grammatical errors
  • Broken links
  • List of seemingly arbitrary keywords which can be a poor attempt to boost search engine optimization
  • False metrics or identifiers such as Impact Index, ISJN, or CiteFactor
  • Guarantee of manuscript acceptance and publication or unrealistic turnaround time
  • The list of issues and articles is hard to find, haphazard, or non-existent
  • No statement about ethics or affiliation with industry organizations 
  • The journal website is hosted by an unknown source 


All of these qualities point to a phony publishers, which may signal that you need to evaluate the journal further. Legitimate publishers will exhibit the following signs on their website:


  • Thorough and accurate contact information
  • Mobile optimization is often a prominent feature
  • The list of issues and articles is complete and easy to find
  • Statement about the journal’s ethics policy
  • Text and navigation are clear, accurate, and helpful
  • Professional page design
  • Industry standard metrics are clearly displayed
  • All the links work
  • The journal website is hosted by a reputable publisher or technology partner that is well known


Still having doubts? Check out other articles published by the journal, review submission and peer review guidelines for additional information, or contact authors or editors listed on the site to ask questions. You can also review our step-by-step evaluation checklist or contact us at with questions about publishers.


Evaluating Scholarly Journals Infographic by Allen Press via FrontMatter (CC BY ND NC 3.0)