Reliable publishers and predatory publishers

Not all open access journals have the same level of quality. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is no indication of the journal’s quality. There are excellent journals that do not charge costs for the author. Unfortunately, there are publishers who collect publication costs but do not supply editorial services or peer review in return, the so-called predatory publishers.

Where legitimate publishers publish titles that vary from good to less good, predatory publishers only publish predatory journals. This does not mean that journals coming from legitimate publishers cannot give the impression of a predatory journal, for instance through aggressive marketing practices.

The information on this page will help you get a handle on how to select journals and which websites you can visit for an extra check. When in doubt, please contact the library.

Always check the reliability of a journal

Check if the open access journal is included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Web of Science of Scopus. These databases have strict quality criteria. If the journal is included in one of these databases, you may safely assume that you are dealing with a reliable journal.

The UU Journal Browser contains a list of over 38,000 scientific journals. The browser is a convenient tool to find out in which journals Utrecht University authors can publish free of charge or at a discount. When the journal is included in the browser, you can be quite sure it is a reliable journal.

Are you in doubt?

Use the ‘Think Check Submit’ tool or follow the steps below:

  • Check if the publisher is a member of COPE or OASPA. If so, you are safe. Please note: go directly to the websites of the organisations mentioned here. Don’t check the website of the publisher, because predatory journals often give false information.

No member of COPE or OASPA? Take the following step:

  • Check if you know someone from the editorial board. Contact them and ask if they are indeed editors and if the journal has a good peer review system.

If you do not know anyone from the editorial board:

  • Check if you know any of the authors of recent articles. Contact them and ask for their experiences with the journal and its peer review system.
  • If you still have doubts, contact the library or consider publishing in another journal.

Be careful with lists

Several lists of predatory journals are available. Lists such as and beallslist are not undisputed and/or sometimes contain out-of-date information. Cabell’s Predatory Reports appears to be one of the more reliable overviews, but you have to pay to get access. So don’t think by just checking a list that you are dealing with a reliable journal. Always complete the steps above.

More information

On the websites Quality Open Access Market (QOAM) and SciRev researchers share their experiences with journals. You can also leave your own comments.

Read more about identifying predatory journals and conferences.