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Selecting a Journal for Publication: Questionable Indicators

Questionable Indicators

Are you reviewing different journals to decide which one to submit for peer review? As follows are some indicators  that may provide clues as to unsuitable journals for publication or review.

  • The content in the journal website contains flash media, misspellings and grammatical errors, with the content phrasing stilted and incomplete (one example is phrasing that reads "left search engine and right search engine").
  • There are no editorial board members listed.
  • The editorial board members are all from a single institution or have no affiliation noted.
  • The editorial board members are not established or reputable investigators/authors within your area of research.
  • There are only a few journal articles noted with a journal, and only one or few issues.
  • The publication schedule is unclear or inconsistent.
  • There are multiple journals under a single publisher; all with few articles and irregular publication schedules.
  • There is no actual physical address for the journal publisher, nor is there a phone number.
  • There is no contact information for the editor-in-chief or the editorial board.
  • There is no Copyright Transfer Agreement form available on the journal website, nor is there any information on the indexing status of the journal.
  • The journal claims that citation indexing is done by Google and SHERPA-Romeo or that they are indexed by PubMed. 
  • There is no information regarding publication ethics.
  • There are no DOIs for the articles, nor is there an ISSN for the journal title.
  • The journal title mirrors an established journal in your area of research with one or two words being different.
  • There are no reporting guidelines or ethics policy.
  • There is a lack of transparency about the peer review process.
  • The journal is not published by reputable or known publisher.
  • The articles are not available in PDF.
  • There are promises of swift publication timeframes.
  • There is no mention of informed consent, conflict of interest statements, or other ethical research procedures.

If in doubt, ask a mentor or colleague or a librarian.

Cathy Sarli or Amy Suiter

Salient Characteristics of Potential Predatory Journals

Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, Clark J, Galipeau J, Roberts J, Shea BJ. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Med. 2017 Mar 16;15(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s12916-017-0785-9. "From our findings, we have developed a list of evidence-based, salient features of suspected predatory journals (Table 10) that are straightforward to assess; we describe them further below. We recognize that these criteria are likely not sensitive enough to detect all potentially illegitimate, predatory journals. However, we feel they are a good starting point."

Table 10: Salient characteristics of potential predatory journals

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