Determine the quality of publishers and journals

During this week I have met with some researchers and doctoral students. We have talked about how to determine the quality of open access publishers and journals. For a year ago I published a guide to determine oa-publishers and oa-journals. The guide is under revision but most of it is still current. Here below you find some questions you should ask when thinking of publishing in (open access) journal.

Have you received mail from the same publisher several times during a short time period? It is not good publishing ethics to spam anyone.
Is the invitation to publish generic? In other words, is there a specific sender who is writing to you personally?
How is the language in the invitation? Is there strange formulations, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors?
Who has received invitations? Have your colleagues received an invitation although their subject area is something else?
Has the invitation come directly after you’ve attended a conference?  These publishers are good at browsing the conference sites to spam you with invitations to write an article in their special issue.
Does the subject and scope of the journal suit your research interests?
What is the journal called? Does the name implicate too broad a scope? E.g. Journal of applied and basic sciences and World journal of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences are very broad journal names and will probably accept the most part of submitted articles.
Where is the journal indexed? Is it plausible? Check! Google Scholar is not a quality stamp. Search your subject specific databases for the journal.
How much does it cost to publish in the journal? Have you received email after you submitted your manuscript saying that if you pay a small fee the peer review will be done faster or that if you cite articles published previously in the journal you get a discount?
Who is editor-in-chief? Google!
Who are the members of the editorial board? Check them! Recognize any names?
If you agree to be a part of the editorial board, what are the conditions?  Are you required to find people who could publish in the journal?
What does the contact information for the publisher/journal look like? (e.g. E-mail) Does the e-mail you receive come from free e-mail providers? It should come from the journal’s e-mail provider.
Who has published in the journal before? What have these authors published in the journal and what have they published before?
Does the researcher have a profile on some of the social media sites?
Can you find the researcher’s home institution?
Can you find the publisher on Beall’s list of Predatory Open Access Publishers?
What information can be found in the journal regarding the peer review process?
How quick is their peer review process? The process can take a while; it is not easy to find reviewers. Did you receive relevant comments?
Are the published articles well-written?
What does the reference list look like? In other words, do the researchers know their subject area?
Are there a lot of self-citations? I.e. do the authors cite themselves?
Are they citing within the journal? External citations, in general, are better. Some publishers and journals “recommend” that you cite articles published in the journal before.
Do the articles have high enough scientific quality for you to be interested in publishing in the journal? Is the method, theory and conclusions reasonable?
Is the publisher a member of OASPA? OASPA is an organization working among other things for standards in open access publishing.

Hopefully these questions help you to determine is a journal is interesting for you to publish in. You can also read Jeffrey Beall’s list for criteria to determine gray publishers/journals. When you have questions or need advice contact me and we will look at it together

Pieta Eklund


Pseudo academics

Pseudo-acadmia is something you meet every time your receive an invitation to submit an article in a special number or a normal number but the sender happens to be someone who is representing one of the thousands of predatory publishers. These invitations might even come from those arranging conferences because many of the predatory publishers arrange conferences. The number of these journals, publishers and conferences increases all the time because the way research is published today. Since open access (making research results freely available online) is a requirement from many and those after easy money have noticed it is little work and low start-up barrier to create a journal or two.

Pseudo-academia is a parallel world with its “high ranking” journals and conferences and many of these have names which are close to the original journal and conference, e.g. Entomology-2013 and Entomology 2013, the difference being the hyphen. One of the is the good kind the other is there just to get the money. This play with names means that you have to be very careful which conferences you want to attend and present a paper at or send an article to.

These mails are a close relative to the phising-mails where the sender appears to be your bank or the Univerisity’s IT-department. You do not want to send an article to a journal which is predatory because you will not get the exposure for your research results you are looking for and you might even damage you reputation as a researcher.

Read Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Check, Too) published by The New York Times where many questions about these operators are asked and some are answered.


Contact the library when you are uncertain of an invitation! You shouldn’t throw out all invitations, some of them come from real publishers and organizers.

Pieta Eklund

How open is it and other resources

There is myriad of resources online which aim to help you navigate in the open access world and some of them are presented below.

How open is it  is a document created by SPARCPLoS and OSAPA. The purpose of the document is to explain open access because all open access is not the same. There are a couple of different kind of restrictions and this document will help you to understand these restrictions and maybe even help you to choose where you want to publish. With this document the three organizations are also changing the focus of discussion from is it open access to how open is it. The brochure is new: it is released this week.

Author rights – Author addendum – is a ready-to-be used agreement to change the publishing agreement you sign with the publisher. This agreement’s purpose is for you to retain your copyright or at least to retain your right to deposit post-print version of your article in BADA. There is even a generator (Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine) where you just fill in the title of your manuscript, journal name, all author names, publisher and which kind of rights you want to retain. Thereafter a pdf is generated that you may attach to the publisher’s agreement. There are no known cases in which the publisher has declined to publish the article when the author has wanted to retain some rights to his/her article.

You can use Sherpa/Romeo to check which regulations apply for different publishers when it comes to copyright and your rights to self-archive research publications in an institutional repository such as BADA. They use colors to describe which version you may use in the repository. Green means that you can deposit pre-print (version before peer review), post-print (version after peer review) or publisher’s version (publisher’s layout). Blue means that you and deposit post-print or publisher’s version. Yellow means that you can only deposit pre-print and white means that the publisher does not formally support archiving in institutional repositories. Most of the publishers allow depositing post-print but to be sure make sure you use the author addendum to at least retain the right to self-archive your publication.

Your library also has a lot of knowledge about open access and can check publisher’s terms and help you to form an opinion of a publisher or a journal if you are suspicious of them being predatory. Contact your library when you need help and support with questions regarding publishing. Your library can help you with other things as well such as information seeking, how you use EndNote, Medeley or other reference tools and a lot of other things.

The guide to assess predatory publishers and journals can be found here.

University of Borås institutional repository is called BADA. You as a researcher should register you publications such as articles, conference papers and posters, reports and books. BADA is used for statistics on how active our researchers are to publish during a specific year. Student thesis can also be found in full text in BADA, most of the in Swedish. Data from BADA is used in Swepub (database for Swedish research) Uppsök ochUppsatser to search for all Swedish student theses.





First published in Biblioteksbloggen 2012-10-26

By: Pieta Eklund

Predatory publishers – A guide

The guide to form an opinion about predatory open access journals and publishers was published a couple of weeks ago in Swedish and now it has been translated into English.

It is important always to check the journal you choose to publish in so that you do not choose a journal which is missing all the scientific criteria for accepting, reviewing and publishing scientific articles. New predatory journals are born every week and they have new ways to seem more serious and to get citations. These journals charge article processing charge (APC) to publish your article. The APC will not be as high as for Springer or other well-known publishers but they will not work with your article: it will not go through a review process; it will not be edited etc.

The latest way in trying to up the journals impact factor is to buy citations. Some publishers have started to send thank-you e-mails to those who have cited articles from their journals in other publishers’ journals. In these e-mails they say they will not charge you APC if you ever want to publish in one of their journal with the condition that you continue to cite their articles. The aim with this is to increase the number of citations so that the journal’s impact factor will increase. This kind of play with impact factor is unethical and something serious science should not be a part of. Read more of this and other topics on predatory publishers in Jeffery Beall’s blog.

You will find the guide below.
Open Acccess and predatory publishers – the guide





First published in Biblioteksbloggen 2012-10-24

By: Pieta Eklund