A distinction needs to be made between predatory open access publishing practices and journals of low quality.
Low-quality academic journals may meet all the criteria of scholarly publishing (peer-review, editorial feedback, indexed for library access, etc.) without being predatory. Similarly, journals can require payment to defray the cost of publishing without being predatory.
For the purposes of this research guide Wikipedia provides us with a suitable definition - "In academic publishing, predatory open access publishing is an exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not)."
It is important that academic researchers (especially inexperienced scholars) be aware that disreputable publishers exist and can harm a researcher's career.
This guide offers some context for the practice of predatory open access publishing.
At the start of 2017 Beall removed his list from the Internet. This page provides links to archived pages and some background about the removal of the list.
Perhaps the best-known resource for identifying predatory open-access publishers is Beall's List of Predatory Publishers. Beall's list is a commonly used resource of open access publishers Beall has identified as disreputable.
From Beall -
Beall's list is not without its critics. See, for example, The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall by Walt Crawford.
"As with a number of other people who’ve been involved with and writing about OA for years, I was growing increasingly nervous about Beall’s growing stridency about “predatory” OA publishers—and amazement that there never seem to be sketchy or predatory subscription publishers, even among those charging high page charges and other article fees."
If you want to know more about Open Access, Peter Suber's Open Access Overview page is a good place to start.
To find quality OA resources, see the Open Access Resources Guide.
Counter to Beall's method of creating a list of disreputable journals the Directory of Open Access Journals strives to create a list of reputable open access publishers.
"DOAJ is a white list of open access journals and aims to be the starting point for all information searches for quality, peer reviewed open access material."
However, since the DOAJ cannot be comprehensive, it can be difficult to evaluate a journal or publisher not on its list.
A recent analysis of popular, widely held databases concluded -
"This study looked at the presence of predatory journals in library databases and attempted to determine if those journals put students at risk of including questionable content in their research papers and assignments. Our final data illustrate that the break-down by certain subjects shows there is clearly more of a presence of predatory journals within the subject areas of science, medicine/health, technology, and business in the three databases that were examined—EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete, Proquest’s Central, and Gale’s Academic One File—and the proportion was found to be even higher in the DOAJ index. Despite the limitations of this study, we believe we have uncovered a significant presence of predatory content in library subscription databases, which may already have had a deleterious effect on student research."
Cabell's International is another organization working to create a list of reputable journals.
Here is their current selection policy for including journals.
"Unfortunately, academic publishing has been rife with fraudulent procedures over the past several years. Instances of deceptive practices and outright fraud have skyrocketed. Understandably, this has led to a significant erosion of trust in the scholarly publication process. In an effort to offer our users guidance and to support our mission of providing academics with accurate information and reputable outlets for publication, Cabell’s has launched a reevaluation initiative whereby selected journals appearing in our Disciplines will be examined according to new, more stringent criteria on a rotating basis throughout the year. Journals are selected for reevaluation based on inclusion in Jeffery Beall’s 2014 List of Predatory Publishers, exclusion from DOAJ and/or OASPA, and not meeting requirements of the Cabell’s Selection Policy. As these selected journals undergo this reevaluation process, they will be removed from our database. Essentially, these journals will be reapplying for inclusion. Journals will be evaluated according to the Cabell’s Selection Policy."
Reference this list for your chosen journal to check if it is trusted.
Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
– Have you read any articles in the journal before?
– Is it easy to discover the latest papers in the journal?
Can you easily identify and contact the publisher?
– Is the publisher name clearly displayed on the journal website?
– Can you contact the publisher by telephone, email, and post?
Is the journal clear about the type of peer review it uses?
Are articles indexed in services that you use?
Is it clear what fees will be charged?
– Does the journal site explain what these fees are for and when they will be charged?
Do you recognise the editorial board?
– Have you heard of the editorial board members?
– Do the editorial board mention the journal on their own websites?
Is the publisher a member of a recognized industry initiative?
– Do they belong to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) ?
– If the journal is open access, is it listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) ?
– If the journal is open access, does the publisher belong to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association (OASPA) ?
– Is the publisher a member of another trade association?