Avoiding Predatory Publishers (& Conferences) Resource Guide

The proliferation of journals and conferences has made avoiding predatory publishers and conferences far more difficult than it was back in the day, when the cost of publishing physical journals (and the infrastructure required to do it) posed a barrier to entry to the market.

While many have heard of predatory publishing, predatory conferences are bogus meetings that scam academics (and undermine science in the process). Since these scams target the same market, I include them both here.

Lucky for us, there are some excellent resources for ferreting out and avoiding bad actors. Here are some good safe resources to start with–you can link to an abundance of resources from these 4 starting points:

    • Beall’s list of predatory publishers: Jeffrey Beall compiled a list of predatory journals over several years that served the community but put him in some jeopardy (read story here). He discontinued the list, but it is archived here, along with newer entries for predatory publishers and conferences, and links to salient news articles and useful web pages, including tools for evaluating journals.
    • Retraction Watch: It’s the Hall of Shame. Be amazed at the sheer number of articles retracted, then take a moment to contemplate the impact of flawed and fabricated research on society. Why Retraction Watch? First, there’s a wealth of information here about how to be a savvy, ethical publishing researcher. Plus, of course, it lists retracted articles, which you need to know about. According to the introduction to their Top 10 most highly cited retracted papers list, many of the articles on the list received more citations after they were retracted . . . which is a problem. Don’t embarrass yourself–know what’s been retracted so you don’t cite it. (Tip: At a bare minimum, before submitting work citing references, use the Check for Updates function in your citation manager to update your references, then search “any field” for “retracted.”)
    • ThinkCheckSubmit.org: ThinkCheckSubmit.org “helps researchers identify trusted journals for their research. Through a range of tools and practical resources, this international, cross-sector initiative aims to educate researchers, promote integrity, and build trust in credible research and publications.
    • Caltech Library Guide by Dana Roth: This page includes a list of questionable conferences and links to information about how to spot predatory conferences (in addition to the standard links to predatory publishing resources).

Don’t dwell on the negative, but be aware that these forces are out there, and they are happy to separate you from your money. Use the resources above and link to other resources to educate yourself and vet a potential publisher/conference. And, if you have access to institutional resources like a research library, check out who at your institution (e.g., research librarian) can help you chart a safe course for your publication plan.