This is a guest post by Vrushali Dandawate, DOAJ Ambassador, India.



All over the world researchers are spending their time in writing research papers, and everyone wants his or her work to be widely recognised. Most of the time researchers are in a hurry to  publish their research papers, so they may not pay attention to whether they are publishing in a proper journal. Unintentionally many researchers are submitting their research papers to questionable  journals (also known as predatory journals).

1. You may get spam emails or marketing materials from the editor inviting you to publish a paper in their journals.

2. These journals give you a guarantee to publish your paper within a very limited time period.

3. No proper information is given on journal peer review policy.

4. No affiliations are provided for editorial board members, and sometimes editors are listed without their knowledge or permission

5. These journals may not be dedicated to one discipline, but instead publish on a wide range of subjects within one journal.

What is the solution?

As a researcher, academician or librarian you must be able to identify questionable publications.

There are guidelines, tools and services available to help you to avoid publishing with questionable  journals, and to choose a proper journal for your paper.

1 Think Check Submit

This website helps researchers to identify appropriate journals in which to publish their research.

2 Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ is a curated index of open access peer reviewed journals that is used by institutions all over the world as a guide to trusted journals where you can safely publish your paper.

3  Open Access Journal Platforms

Developing country authors can also choose to publish their article in journals available in aggregation platforms such as African Journals Online (AJOL), SciELO and Redalyc. Journals are evaluated according to a number of criteria regarding their publishing practices before they can be included in AJOL.

4  AuthorAID

AuthorAID is working to increase the success rate of developing country researchers in achieving publication, and to increase the visibility and influence of research in the developing world. AuthorAID achieves these objectives through networking, resources, training and mentoring. Membership is free, and you can find a mentor through the AuthorAID database or by asking the AuthorAID discussion list about experiences of particular journals.

Find a mentor to publish your research


Identify trusted publishers for your research

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  1. There is a major confusion here. Low cost journals listed as predatory have taken off and are publishing a huge number of papers. These journals have average APCs of around $100, compared to the $1500 to $3500 APCs charged by rich journals. This is a dramatic difference.

    The concept of “predatory journal” incorrectly includes a lot of legitimate low cost journals, masking a major change in scientific communication. I discuss this publishing revolution here:

    India is the center of the low cost journal revolution. Research indicates that these journals are primarily serving unfunded researchers in emerging economies, who could not possibly afford to publish in rich western journals. Unfortunately the unwarranted “predatory” stigma is creating serious confusion, especially in India. I discuss this here:

    Low cost journals cannot meet the expensive criteria established for rich journals. This does not make them predatory. There are over 10,000 of these emerging journals, publishing hundreds of thousands of legitimate articles a year. They provide an important new outlet for research. We need to recognize this revolution.

    1. Reply by Vrushali Dandawate:

      First of all, I agree that the term predatory is misleading, thus DOAJ is trying to avoid using this term, we prefer to talk about questionable journals. I think the core issue is whether a journal is transparent in terms of the services the journal claims to offer to the author.

      Most authors want their work to be widely recognized, therefore journals services such as proper peer-review, check for plagiarism, archiving and indexing are important. But I realize as well that many authors only needs a reference to be put on their CV, regardless whether the work has been peer-reviewed, indexed etc. Questionable journals can provide this ”service” very cheap, but for the scholarly record those journals are not serving the author and science very well to say the least. In fact there are thousands of good journals that provides very good services cheaper than very cheap, in fact without charging at all. But of course many of those journals might not be able to provide the ”service” some authors are looking for: rapid publication, quick inclusion in their CV.

      It is important to check the journal by using some of the checklist available. I am not saying here, that if a journal is not listed in the DOAJ it is a questionable journal, but rather that if the journal is not listed, it is advisable to check the journal properly before you submit your paper.

      1. You do not seem to be recognizing the revolution. Have you read my articles? To begin with, I seriously doubt that the 500,000 or so articles per year published in these low cost journals are people “padding their resumes.” The numbers are far too large for that and I suspect that many of these legitimate articles would be rejected by the rich journals. Research suggests that this is a major outlet for unfunded researchers in emerging economies, a new channel of scientific communication for a new population of researchers.

        As for elaborate and expensive external peer review, which you apparently claim is the only “proper” form, that is questionable in this context. If a rich journal has a rejection rate of 50 to 90% then expensive 2 to 3 person external peer review might be useful. But if the rejection rate is close to 5% then it is useless and unnecessary. Editorial peer review is sufficient.

        If DOAJ wants to set standards that only rich OA journals can meet, that does not make poor journals questionable. It merely excludes them.

  2. Without wanting to start a lengthy discussion here I do feel the need to react on your latest comment
    You say
    ‘ ‘If DOAJ wants to set standards that only rich OA journals can meet, that does not make poor journals questionable. It merely excludes them.”

    You seem to asume that peer review is an expensive process but I see absolutely no evidence for this: on the contrary most peer reviewers do not get paid for their reviewing work
    I feel confident that all legitimate open access journals can meet our basic criteria for inclusion. We only exclude journals with poor publishing practices, not poor journals. And also please note that indexing and access in the DOAJ is a free service in contrast to other renowned indexing services like SCOPUS.
    I fail to see a revolution in the rise in numbers of small open access publishers. what’s more, the corresponding numbers of articles (500,000) you quote are highly questionable, please see the extensive study on this topic by Walt Crawford.(
    This does not mean rhat we do not see the importance of the thousands of small open access publishers
    But the real revolution is the open access publishing system as such which allows sharing of quality research with anyone long as this quality is well checked
    Tom Olijhoek Editor in Chief DOAJ

  3. Managing extensive external peer review is probably the most expensive thing that a rich journal does, especially given a high rejection rate. This is a big reason why their APCs run to thousands of dollars.

    As for the number of articles, Crawford found about 250,000 for 2014, but later Beall’s lists are much larger. The last list (2017) had 47% more standalone journals and 25% more multi-journal publishers than the 2016 list. My 500,000 is just a guess but it could me much higher by now.

    Your list of “good practices” is actually quite expensive. Look at what a rich journal does for a $3000 APC, then ask what can be done for $100? the answer is very little besides look at the submission and post it. Your criteria are completely unrealistic for this super low cost business model. These criteria are based on rich journal practices.

    1. Wouldn’t it be nice if Crawford had done later studies? Oh, wait…
      If people want something better than “just a guess” (or the horrendously padded Bjork numbers), I’d refer them to page 8 of GOAJ3: Gold Open Access Journals 2012-2017 (
      A realistic estimate (based on actual article counts) for all known gold OA journals not in DOAJ for 2017 is just under 350,000–and that includes not only “predatory” journals but also those dropped from DOAJ for any reasons. Since comparable figures for 2016, 2015, and 2014 are 356,540; 337,351; and 290,218, the area doesn’t appear to be growing rapidly. Also, as far as I can tell, there are perhaps 5,000 no-DOAJ journals that actually publish articles on an ongoing basis. Meanwhile, there are quite literally thousands of DOAJ journals that don’t charge *any* fees–supported by universities, societies, or whatever–and manage to meet DOAJ’s criteria: 6,791 such journals published articles in 2017, for a total of 246,310 articles, all apparently refereed. That’s the model that should be expanding, combining editorial integrity with low cost.

  4. I agree with David. Research should be allowed to be published. We are creating a divide between funded and non funded research and this shows up in the selecion of journals.

    1. This is great, Walt. I will publicize it.

      One question — Are all of the journals in Beall’s last list in DOAJ? I think it was his Jan 2017 list. As I read it your study is limited to DOAJ listed journals. Is that correct?

      1. No. The table summarizes the results of several studies. Only a handful of Beall’s victims are in DOAJ, and I’ve consistently held that positive demonstrated presence (DOAJ) beats out negative questionable status (Beall).
        Gray 1-3 are all non-DOAJ journals (3 and 2 subsets of Beall’s lists). For MUCH more info see Gray OA 2012-2016 (Cites & Insights 17.1, and Gray OA 2012-2017: A Partial Update (Cites & Insights 17.9,

  5. Thank you very much for providing the important information about the publishing with the correct journal. And i agree with you all fact you have shared in your blog. Everyone needs to understands about the right research paper.

  6. My own take on this is that most of these journals ask researchers to pay before they can get to be published while the established journal in most cases refuses to publish this same articles claiming backlogs or just any excuse to deny publication. My only concern is how can researchers especially those from developing countries, masters and doctoral student who are interested in putting out their research and also want to build their profiles be helped to get their articles published in standard journals and not having to pay to get published. If there are journals that can help, it would be nice to have a list of such journals.

    1. You can search DOAJ for journals in your subject area that don’t charge APCs.
      At select to search Journals, and then under the Article Processing Charges (APCs) facet, select No. This will list all the journals in DOAJ that reported no publishing charges. You can then select a subject from the Subject Area facet, or enter a search term in the search box to narrow down the list to journals that publish in your subject area.

  7. I am sure that the misleading journal indexes, as predatory Publishers, is a long “dark” story that is a shame. Just one more example – JICindex It was developed in 2017 by a Publisher, Business Perspectives. Publisher is listed in the Beals’ list of predatory publishers since 2014. This index is about ranking the journals by accessing their ethics in publishing! How is it possible to access it? It is possible to evaluate it in a whole and include the journal in some list or not, but how is it possibe to rank the journals by publishing ethics??? This publisher wants to make money running this index and became an “ethical” advocate for other journal at list in one country where it is located!!! This is a nonsense at all. I think all those Publishers who will be involved in running such indexes should be excluded from any other legitimate indexes throughout the world and scholars should ignore such a Publisher! The most funny that several journals of this Publisher are indexed by SCOPUS and have been included in DOAJ in 2017 too!

  8. Hi David, I’ve just found this blog post and discussion. I think your stance and the blog author’s may be closer than the comments might suggest. The original blog post and the advice of things to check do not just cover large, high-cost publishing. The post includes links to Think. Check. Submit., which includes checking the Journals Online platforms as part of the checklist. The post also directly links to the Journals Online project (locally managed platforms for predominantly small, scholar-led, open-access journals published in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mongolia and Central America; these journals do not charge thousands of dollars for APCs but they do run peer review processes) as well as to African Journals Online (a similar platform in Africa) as well as SciELO and Redalyc. The post also links to AuthorAID, which provides a range of advice and support particularly for researchers to low- and middle-income countries.

    Since this post was published, AJOL and INASP (I work for INASP) have launched the Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS) in response to requests from journal editors and researchers in the Global South. I’m sure you’ve already seen it already but for completeness in this comment, more information can be found at It has quite a bit of overlap with other checklists and guidelines but is particularly tailored to the contexts that these journals work in.