Biomedical Science

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How to Avoid Predatory Journals

How to Avoid Predatory Journals

The purpose of this guide is to educate and inform faculty and staff at UVA about the practices of "predatory" publishers and to supply criteria in order for the researchers to make informed decisions where to publish their scholarship. Predatory journals/publishers, also described as "questionable", can be defined as journals that lack discernible scholarship, academic rigor or credibility, and use aggressive practices to recruit authors and editors. Predatory publishers' opaque operations and editorial processes are suggestive of an intention to deceive both authors and readers (Butler, 2013).

Before you submit your article there are steps you can take to ensure you select a high-quality journal and avoid predatory publishers: 

  • Check to see if the journal is indexed in MEDLINE/PubMed (use filter "currently indexed in MEDLINE") or another reputable literature database such as Web of Science, CINAHL, etc.
  • When searching for a high-quality journal use the criteria described in the following blog post: "Submitting to a journal commits you to it for six weeks to six months (or longer)- so choose your journal carefully".
  • Find reputable journals in one or more of the following lists and directories
    • The Web of Science Journal Citation Reports (UVA only) - A multidisciplinary index to journals with impact factors. Resource for journal evaluation, using citation data drawn from over 11,000 indexed journals in nearly 250 disciplines. Coverage is both multidisciplinary and international and incorporates journals from over 3,000 publishers in 81 countries/regions.
    • The Ulrich’s Web Global Serials Directory - Bibliographic and access information about serials published throughout the world, covering all subjects. Can be limited to peer-reviewed journals (open access or subscription–based). To determine if a publication is peer-reviewed, utilize the library's subscription to Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory. Search the journal by name, then look for the "refereed" symbol next to the name to indicate it is refereed, aka peer reviewed.
    • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) - An online directory that indexes high quality, peer-reviewed Open Access research journals, periodicals, and their articles' metadata. DOAJ's Seal of Approval is awarded to journals that achieve a high level of openness, adhere to Best Practice, and high publishing standards.
    • Check to see if the journal is in the: Stop Predatory Journals list, a list of potential or possible predatory journals and publishers. This is not a comprehensive list of predatory publishers.

Other Resources

Further Reading:

  • Beall, J. (2017). What I learned from predatory publishers. Biochemia Medica, 27(2), 273-278.
  • Bell, K. (2017). Predatory Open Access journals as parody: Exposing the limitations of ‘legitimate’ academic publishing. Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 15(2), 651-662.
  • Butler, Declan (2013). Investigating Journals: The dark side of publishing. Nature, 495 (7442), 433-435.
  • Crotty, David (2018). Revisiting Six Years of Predatory Publishing. Blog post, The Scholarly Kitchen. 
  • Laine C, Winker MA. (February 15, 2017). Identifying Predatory or Pseudo-Journals. World Association of Medical Editors. 
  • Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., Shea, B. J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine, 15(1), 28.


Additional assistance is available to UVA Health System faculty, staff, and students. Just Ask Us - we are happy to provide help via email, phone, or in-person.

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