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Selecting a Journal for Publication: Solicitations to Publish

Questionable Indicators

Did you receive an unsolicited invitation from a journal inviting you to submit a manuscript for peer review or to serve on an editorial board? Some invitations may be from credible journals; others may be from unscrupulous journals seeking to exploit authors. In most instances, an invited publication is solicited by one’s peers and known colleagues, and from an established and credible journal. As follows are some indicators noted in emails that may provide clues as to questionable journals for publication or review.

  • The content in the email contains misspellings and grammatical errors, with the content phrasing stilted and incomplete.
  • The journal title is not related to your field of research.
  • The journal title includes words that represent multiple research areas.
  • The email contains invitations to publish and serve as a reviewer.
  • The email contains flash media and colors.
  • You do not know the sender.
  • There is no recognizable publisher name, nor do you recognize the name of the sender as being a colleague in your field of research.
  • There is no academic information regarding the editor, editorial staff, and/or review board members (e.g., institutional affiliation).
  • The email address has a freely available domain name such as gmail or yahoo.
  • There are multiple social media icons in the email.
  • There is a link to opt out of receiving further emails.
  • Geographic references may be vague such as “the Americas.”
  • The salutation may appear to be archaic.
  • The email solicitation is not from an actual person.
  • The email address does not contain the name of the sender or affiliation.
  • There are promises of swift peer review timeframes; within hours or days.
  • The article will be uploaded on a journal website within days after payment of processing fees.
  • There is no link to a journal website.
  • There is no specific journal noted.
  • The journal title is similar to an established journal.
  • Submission of the manuscript is via email, not an online submission system affiliated with a publisher or known vendor.
  • The sender praises your previous work in the field.
  • The sender wants to be your friend, send a gift, or offers immediate payment.
  • Publication fees are flexible or in some instances, you are asked to pay what you can afford.
  • There are multiple invitations included in the email such as serving on an editorial board or to present at a conference.

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

Cathy Sarli or Amy Suiter

Need Help?

Have you received an email solicitation to publish in a journal and are not sure if it is a reputable journal, ask a mentor or colleague or a librarian: Cathy Sarli or Amy Suiter.

Watch out for Phishing

Invitations to publish or present may be phishing.


Do not click on any links in the email itself, rather type in the address of the journal or conference website in your browser.

See the WUSTL Phishing page for more information.