Legitimate v. predatory publishers

Most commercial publishers adhere to Open Access Categories where their cost models are gold, green or hybrid and have transparent policies. However, open means democracy of creation and distribution, and this unfortunately includes those who wish to take advantage of researchers who wish to engage in open and may not be aware of what constitutes ‘legitimate’ publishing. These are called Deceptive Publishers (also known as Predatory Publishers).

It is important to separate deceptive publishers from community-based, well-meaning open initiatives that are either too new to implement ‘legitimate’ structures or due to lack of resources, expertise, or personnel, have not implemented these structures. Unfortunately, some deceptive publishers take the cloak of these type of publishing initiatives to lure researchers to engage with them.

Protect yourself from deceptive or predatory publishers

There are many resources to assist researchers to make good choices and avoid succumbing to the spam/enticement that many researchers receive in their email inbox. 

University of Toronto has devised a Deceptive Publishers Checklist to help you assess a journal choice or you have received an unsolicited invitation to submit your paper. 

SPARC has developed the HowOpenIsIt? Open Access Spectrum guide to aid researchers in assessing the level of open access of a particular journal. Rather than divide OA into discreet models, as above, this guide places journal policies into six board categories and ranks the policies on a gradient between “Closed Access” and “Open Access”. The spectrum of open access policies presented in the guide gives researchers a more nuanced means of assessing a given journal’s level of open access. 

The Think, Check, Submit website, supported by a number of Open Access organizations, provides resources for assessing Open Access publications, including definitions of key terms, checklists, and links to various OA indexes. The checklists included on the site are particularly useful for helping researchers avoid predatory publishers. CARL also provides a short assessment guide for avoiding “undesirable” journals.  

Finally, while CRKN's Assessment Guidelines for Open Access Publishers are primarily meant to inform CRKN licensing decisions with vendors, the “Operations” section provides a short and handy list for researchers to compare against when assessing journals and their policies.