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Research Guides@Tufts

Field Guide to Predatory Publishers: Critical Analysis Resources

Resources to assess if an open access journal is a good place to publish your work.

Check List

Signs a journal or publisher might be "predatory" or that it might not be a good fit.

  1. The journal is not listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
  2. The journal is not listed in Ulrichs (Tufts login required).  It is not widely available on major indexes.
  3. The publisher is not a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).
  4. The publisher is listed on Beall's List.

Visit the website for the journal.  You might have concerns if...

  1. You don't regularly read this journal.
  2. You don't recognize previously published authors.  You don't recognize the members of the editorial board.
  3. It does not appear to be affiliated with a university or scholarly organization you are familiar with.
  4. You cannot easily identify if they have author processing fees and/or how much they cost.
  5. The journal does not appear professional - look for an impact factor, an ISSN, DOIs for individual articles, easy to find contact information.

Analysis Resources

Journal Citation Reports (JCR)

Tufts Libraries subscription through Web of Knowledge. Use this resource to locate citation data (metrics) for a particular journal title.

Publication Index Lists

Use these lists to determine if an OA or hybrid journal is included in a traditional, respected indexing source.

  • Web of Science: includes arts, humanities, and social sciences, science/technology/engineering.
  • Scopus: mostly science/technology/engineering and social sciences.
  • Chemical Abstracts (Scifinder Scholar): science/technology/engineering.
  • PubMed: science/technology, bio/biomedical engineering, clinical, public/community health.
  • JSTOR: arts, humantities, social sciences, sciences.

Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)

Counterpoint to Beall's Blog.  A membership organization for OA publishers.  Members must adhere to a code of conduct, many points of which are direct attempts to combat against predatory publishers.

Scholarly Open Access: Critical Analysis of Scholarly Open-Access Publishing (AKA Beall's Blog)

This blog is written by Jeffrey Beall, librarian from the University of Colorado, Denver. He provides a list of publishers and journal titles that are considered “questionable” or possibly “predatory.”  Recently, Beall has added some transparency about his methods of determining if something is "predatory" to his blog, in response to criticism.  Like the process of considering where to publish, researchers should consider Beall's site with some healthy criticism. Good to use alongside OASPA, to see a list of "good" OA publishers.

Scopus Journal Analyzer

Use the Journal Analyzer tool to compare up to 10 Scopus sources on a variety of parameters: scientific prestige (SJR), citation impact (SNIP), total number of citations, documents, percent of articles not cited, and percent of articles that are reviews.


Use this resource to locate where OA journals are cataloged.

Online periodicals directory, subscription through Tufts.  An authoritative source of bibliographic and publisher information on academic and scholarly journals, including Open Access publications, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more from around the world.


Use this resource to locate where OA journals are cataloged.

A framework for systematic analysis of Open Access journals and its application in software engineering and information systems

An arXiv.org article proposing an analysis framework of 18 core attributes, divided into the areas of Bibliographic information, Activity metrics, Economics, Accessibility, and Predatory issues of OA journals.

Open Access Resources

Open Access Journals


Open access to 979,767 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics. Supported by Cornell University.

BioMed Central

BioMed Central is "an independent publishing house committed to providing immediate free access to peer-reviewed biomedical research." It is "committed to ensuring efficient and effective quality control through full and stringent peer review." It currently publishes over 100 open access journals, which are also archived in PubMed Central. BioMed Central has article-processing charges, which may be paid by authors, by funding agencies, or by institutions (by institutional memberships). They may also be waived under some circumstances. It uses a license that is identical to the Creative Commons Attribution License. BMC's search engine allows users to search both its journals and journals in PubMed Central.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)

Database of free, full text, quality controlled scholarly journals in a broad range of subjects and languages. There are over 3,000 journals in the directory, with almost half searchable at article level.

JURN: The Directory of Scholarly E-Journals in the Arts & Humanities

A unique search-engine dedicated to indexing free and ‘open access’ ejournals in the arts and humanities.

Public Library of Science (PLoS)

PLoS is "a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource." Its goals are to "open the doors to the world's library of scientific knowledge," to "facilitate research, informed medical practice, and education," and to "enable scientists, librarians, publishers, and entrepreneurs to develop innovative ways to explore and use the world's treasury of scientific ideas and discoveries." PLoS currently publishes two highly regarded journals—PLoS Biology (October 2003)and PLoS Medicine (October 2004)—with three more planned for release in 2005. PLoS has publication charges similar to BioMed Central's, and its journals are deposited in PubMed Central. It uses the Creative Commons Attribution License. In spite of publishing a small number of journals, PLoS is a very influential organization, and its founders are major figures in the open access movement.

PubMed Central (PMC)

Launched in 2000 after roughly a year of controversy over its establishment, PMC "is a digital archive of life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), developed and managed by NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM)." With a preservation-oriented mission, PMC feels "that giving all users free and unrestricted access to the material in PubMed Central is the best way to ensure the durability and utility of the archive as technology changes over time." PMC provides field-based Boolean searching and other advanced search features. The Web site provides information about journal selection criteria and how publishers can voluntarily deposit journals in PMC (individual articles can be deposited by publishers who do not fully meet the selection criteria under some circumstances). Since open access is a significant issue for biomedical journal editors, biomedical journals (e.g., BMJ, CMAJ, and PLoS Biology) often carry opinion or analysis pieces about open access, and, consequently, PubMed Central is an excellent search tool for finding open access articles with a biomedical slant.


With a focus on developing countries (especially in Latin America and the Caribbean), SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) is "a model for cooperative electronic publishing of scientific journals on the Internet." The Web site provides access to a variety of journals published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The journal collections can be browsed by discipline and by country of origin. There are also links to scientific communication initiatives.

List of Open Access Journals (Wikipedia)


Elsevier: Open Access Journals