Skip to Main Content
Becker Medical Library logotype
Library Quicklinks and Information

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.


  • 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 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 falsely claims that they are indexed by PubMed. PubMed is a search interface for the MEDLINE bibliographic database.
  • The journal notes indexing from non-bibliographic/citation databases such as Google or SHERPA-Romeo.
  • There is no information regarding publication ethics.
  • There are no recommended reporting guidelines for authors to follow.
  • There is a lack of transparency about the peer review process.
  • There is no mention of informed consent, conflict of interest statements, or other ethical research procedures.
  • The Aim and Scope of the journal is not clearly stated.


  • The content on the journal website contains flash media, misspellings and grammatical errors.
  • The text appears to be stilted and incomplete (one example is phrasing that reads "left search engine and right search engine").
  • There is advertising on the journal website.
  • The design and content mirrors that of another journal.


  • The journal is not published by reputable or known publisher.
  • There is no actual physical address for the journal publisher, nor is there a phone number.
  • There are multiple journals under a single publisher; all with few articles and irregular publication schedules.
  • The publisher logo or icon mirrors that of an established publisher.


  • There are promises of swift publication timeframes such as a few days.
  • There is no information as to article publication fees.
  • The journal charges a fee before a manuscript is submitted for peer review.
  • The publication schedule is unclear or inconsistent.


  • There are misspellings or grammar errors noted for articles.
  • There are no DOIs for the articles.
  • The articles are not germane to the aim and scope of the journal.
  • The titles of the articles do not match the research or study findings described in the article.
  • The research does not follow recognized guidelines for reporting of research.
  • The articles are not available in PDF.
  • The publication schedule is inconsistent and erratic.
  • Several of the articles over the past few years are authored by the same person or a member of the editorial board.
  • There are no editorials from the Editor-in-Chief.


  • The journal title mirrors the title of an established journal in your area of research with one or two words being different.
  • There is no ISSN for the journal title.

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

Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License