“Blacklists” and “whitelists” to tackle predatory publishing : A cross-sectional comparison and thematic analysis

Authors : Michaela Strinzel​, Anna Severin, Katrin Milzow, Matthias Egger


Despite growing awareness of predatory publishing and research on its market characteristics, the defining attributes of fraudulent journals remain controversial.

We aimed to develop a better understanding of quality criteria for scholarly journals by analysing journals and publishers indexed in blacklists of predatory journals and whitelists of legitimate journals and the lists’ inclusion criteria.


We searched for blacklists and whitelists in early 2018. Lists that included journals across disciplines were eligible. We used a mixed methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative analyses.

To quantify overlaps between lists in terms of indexed journals and publishers we employed the Jaro-Winkler string metric and Venn diagrams. To identify topics addressed by the lists’ inclusion criteria and to derive their broader conceptual categories, we used a qualitative coding approach.


Two blacklists (Beall’s and Cabell’s) and two whitelists (DOAJ and Cabell’s) were eligible. The number of journals per list ranged from 1404 to 12357 and the number of publishers from 473 to 5638. Seventy-three journals and 42 publishers were included both in a blacklist and whitelist. A total of 198 inclusion criteria were examined.

Seven thematic themes were identified: (i) peer review, (ii) editorial services, (iii) policy, (iv) business practices, (v) publishing, archiving and access, (vi) website and (vii) indexing and metrics.

Business practices accounted for almost half of blacklists’ criteria, whereas whitelists gave more emphasis to criteria related to policy and guidelines. Criteria were grouped into four broad concepts: (i) transparency, (ii) ethics, (iii) professional standards and (iv) peer review and other services.

Whitelists gave more weight to transparency whereas blacklists focused on ethics and professional standards. The criteria included in whitelists were easier to verify than those used in blacklists. Both types of list gave relatively little emphasis to the quality of peer review.


There is overlap between journals and publishers included in blacklists and whitelists. Blacklists and whitelists differ in their criteria for quality and the weight given to different dimensions of quality. Aspects that are central but difficult to verify receive insufficient attention.

URL : “Blacklists” and “whitelists” to tackle predatory publishing : A cross-sectional comparison and thematic analysis

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27532v1

Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey

Authors : Kelly D Cobey, Agnes Grudniewicz, Manoj M Lalu, Danielle B Rice, Hana Raffoul, David Moher


To develop effective interventions to prevent publishing in presumed predatory journals (ie, journals that display deceptive characteristics, markers or data that cannot be verified), it is helpful to understand the motivations and experiences of those who have published in these journals.


An online survey delivered to two sets of corresponding authors containing demographic information, and questions about researchers’ perceptions of publishing in the presumed predatory journal, type of article processing fees paid and the quality of peer review received. The survey also asked six open-ended items about researchers’ motivations and experiences.


Using Beall’s lists, we identified two groups of individuals who had published empirical articles in biomedical journals that were presumed to be predatory.


Eighty-two authors partially responded (~14% response rate (11.4%[44/386] from the initial sample, 19.3%[38/197] from second sample) to our survey. The top three countries represented were India (n=21, 25.9%), USA (n=17, 21.0%) and Ethiopia (n=5, 6.2%).

Three participants (3.9%) thought the journal they published in was predatory at the time of article submission. The majority of participants first encountered the journal via an email invitation to submit an article (n=32, 41.0%), or through an online search to find a journal with relevant scope (n=22, 28.2%).

Most participants indicated their study received peer review (n=65, 83.3%) and that this was helpful and substantive (n=51, 79.7%). More than a third (n=32, 45.1%) indicated they did not pay fees to publish.


This work provides some evidence to inform policy to prevent future research from being published in predatory journals.

Our research suggests that common views about predatory journals (eg, no peer review) may not always be true, and that a grey zone between legitimate and presumed predatory journals exists. These results are based on self-reports and may be biased thus limiting their interpretation.

URL : Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026516

Revisiting the Term Predatory Open Access Publishing

Author : Aamir Raoof Memon

Since the 1990s, scholarly publishing has been transformed from subscription print-based paradigm to an open access and digital publishing model, but this transformation has been accompanied by unethical and predatory publishing practices.

‘Pay-to-publish’ predatory journals abuse the open-access publishing model, and their main intention is to make money out of authors for their editor–owners. The defining characteristic of predatory journals is the lack of a proper peer review process, despite their claims to the contrary.

The spectrum of victims of predatory journals varies widely and includes inexperienced, early-career and naive researchers from both developing and high- to upper middle-income countries, together with experienced researchers.

To circumvent this, several black and whitelists have been created. Beall’s list of potential or probable predatory journals remained the go-to list until its sudden closure.

Later, similar lists such as the Stop Predatory Journals website (https://predatoryjournals.com), and institutional lists such as those published by the University Grants Commission (UGC) India, and several other commercial bodies and associations appeared; however, they have been criticized for several reasons, including their poor methodology and lack of transparency.

The world of scholarly publishing is not purely black and white, and there are always some grey areas; therefore, we cannot rely on any such listings.

URL : Revisiting the Term Predatory Open Access Publishing

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2019.34.e99

Predatory publications in evidence syntheses

Authors : Amanda Ross-White, Christina M. Godfrey, Kimberley A. Sears, Rosemary Wilson


The number of predatory journals is increasing in the scholarly communication realm. These journals use questionable business practices, minimal or no peer review, or limited editorial oversight and, thus, publish articles below a minimally accepted standard of quality.

These publications have the potential to alter the results of knowledge syntheses. The objective of this study was to determine the degree to which articles published by a major predatory publisher in the health and biomedical sciences are cited in systematic reviews.


The authors downloaded citations of articles published by a known predatory publisher. Using forward reference searching in Google Scholar, we examined whether these publications were cited in systematic reviews.


The selected predatory publisher published 459 journals in the health and biomedical sciences. Sixty-two of these journal titles had published a total of 120 articles that were cited by at least 1 systematic review, with a total of 157 systematic reviews citing an article from 1 of these predatory journals.


Systematic review authors should be vigilant for predatory journals that can appear to be legitimate. To reduce the risk of including articles from predatory journals in knowledge syntheses, systematic reviewers should use a checklist to ensure a measure of quality control for included papers and be aware that Google Scholar and PubMed do not provide the same level of quality control as other bibliographic databases.



Open access medical journals: Benefits and challenges

Authors : Jenny Z.Wang, Aunna Pourang, Barbara Burrall

The world of medical science literature is ever increasingly accessible via the Internet. Open access online medical journals, in particular, offer access to a wide variety of useful information at no cost.

In addition, they provide avenues for publishing that are available to health care providers of all levels of training and practice. Whereas costs are less with the publishing of online open access journals, fewer resources for funding and technical support also exist.

A recent rise in predatory journals, which solicit authors but charge high fees per paper published and provide low oversight, pose other challenges to ensuring the credibility of accessible scientific literature.

Recognizing the value and efforts of legitimate open access online medical journals can help the reader navigate the over 11,000 open access journals that are available to date.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2018.09.010

Being a deliberate prey of a predator: Researchers’ thoughts after having published in predatory journal

Authors: Najmeh Shaghaei, Charlotte Wien, Jakob Pavl Holck, Anita L. Thiesen, Ole Ellegaard, Evgenios Vlachos, Thea Marie Drachen

A central question concerning scientific publishing is how researchers select journals to which they submit their work, since the choice of publication channel can make or break researchers.

The gold-digger mentality developed by some publishers created the so-called predatory journals that accept manuscripts for a fee with little peer review. The literature claims that mainly researchers from low-ranked universities in developing countries publish in predatory journals.

We decided to challenge this claim using the University of Southern Denmark as a case. We ran the Beall’s List against our research registration database and identified 31 possibly predatory publications from a set of 6,851 publications within 2015-2016.

A qualitative research interview revealed that experienced researchers from the developed world publish in predatory journals mainly for the same reasons as do researchers from developing countries: lack of awareness, speed and ease of the publication process, and a chance to get elsewhere rejected work published.

However, our findings indicate that the Open Access potential and a larger readership outreach were also motives for publishing in open access journals with quick acceptance rates.

URL : Being a deliberate prey of a predator: Researchers’ thoughts after having published in predatory journal

DOI : http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10259

Negative Effects of “Predatory” Journals on Global Health Research

Authors : Diego A. Forero, Marilyn H. Oermann, Andrea Manca, Franca Deriu, Hugo Mendieta-Zerón, Mehdi Dadkhah, Roshan Bhad, Smita N. Deshpande, Wei Wang, Myriam Patricia Cifuentes

Predatory journals (PJ) exploit the open-access model promising high acceptance rate and fast track publishing without proper peer review. At minimum, PJ are eroding the credibility of the scientific literature in the health sciences as they actually boost the propagation of errors.

In this article, we identify issues with PJ and provide several responses, from international and interdisciplinary perspectives in health sciences.

Authors, particularly researchers with limited previous experience with international publications, need to be careful when considering potential journals for submission, due to the current existence of large numbers of PJ.

Universities around the world, particularly in developing countries, might develop strategies to discourage their researchers from submitting manuscripts to PJ or serving as members of their editorial committees.

URL : Negative Effects of “Predatory” Journals on Global Health Research

DOI : http://doi.org/10.29024/aogh.2389