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Clinical Resources for Physical Therapy and Athletic Training

This guide was developed to assist students during their clinical rotations with content suggested by Randy Richter, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training.

What is Predatory Publishing?

There is no agreed upon list of criteria that a journal must meet in order to be called a "predatory publisher." It is a somewhat subjective term. Jeffrey Beall, creator of the Beall's list, describes predatory publishing as:

"Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various levels of deception and lack of transparency in their operations. For examples, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists."

However, Monica Berger and Jill Cirasella, both librarians at City University of New York, would like to remind researchers that: 

"Quality and reputation are independent of openness, that OA journals do not necessarily charge fees, and that fees do not necessarily imply predatoriness."

There are many high quality OA journals out there. It is a matter of doing your research to ensure you are publishing with the right one.


Journal Hijacking: Where a unaffiliated 3rd party creates a sham website for a legitimate journal in order to scam people looking to publish their paper.

Predatory Publishers Lists

These lists were created by Prof. Jeffrey Beall, a University of Colorada Denver librarian. They contain potential predatory publishers. While some are critical of these lists, it is a good starting point.

Red Flags of Predatory Publishers


  • Journal titles that are excessively broad to attract more articles and make more money
  • False or insufficient contact information about the publisher
    • Addresses are often “mail drops” in U.S.
  • Made up names of editorial board members–provide inadequate contact information to check them out
    • Worse: include legitimate scholars without their knowledge or permission
  • Hijacked Journals-- a fake website is created for a legitimate journal in order to scam money from researchers
  • Hidden information about author fees
    • Author fees should be clearly listed on the site
    • Example: some predatory journals publish a paper and then send the author an invoice
  • Promised rapid turnaround time
    • Any journal that promises a peer review process that is completed in a week or that your article will immediately be indexed on Google Scholar does not care about the quality of your paper
  • False claims to have an impact factor or use of a made up metric like “view factor"
  • Journals that are only indexed in Google Scholar
    • Google Scholar includes reputable and predatory OA journal articles
    • Some predatory journals may list indexes that do not actually exist
  • Invented publisher names and email addresses that are similar to real publishers
    • Be wary of publisher emails coming from .gmail or .yahoo (or any other free email supplier)


  • Read some of the journal's articles and assess their quality for yourself.
    • You can get in contact with other authors and ask about their experience
  • See if the journal is indexed in PubMed or DOAJ—Directory of Open Access Journals
    • PubMed only indexes reputable journals
    • The DOAJ sometimes includes predatory journals (since it is a somewhat subjective term), so do not use this as your sole criteria
  • Proceed with caution when you receive emails soliciting papers or asking you to be on an editorial board.
  • Use common sense. If the journal looks questionable, then be sure to do your research.
  • Contact your liaison librarian with any questions regarding a journal. We will be happy to help you verify the quality of any OA journals!