Beware of spam email from predatory journal publishers

Predatory PublishersTAA member Laura Frost recently received an email from a journal soliciting a paper based on her 2014 TAA Conference presentation. Since she had attended a session at the TAA conference presented by Jeffrey Beall, who discussed predatory journal publishers, she looked up the journal on Beall’s website, Scholarly Open Access, and found that this particular journal was listed as a predatory publisher.

She brought this to our attention and we have asked Beall to use the email she received to illustrate how to identify a predatory publisher from such emails. View email Frost received (highlighted text illustrates some of Beall’s identifiers)

“Many of the predatory publishers are in fact counterfeit publishers, and are very skilled at making themselves appear to be legitimate publishers,” said Beall. “Consequently, making a judgment about a publisher based only on a sample of its spam may not provide enough information to make a good decision.”

Still, he said, there are numerous items in this spam email that stand out to him as hallmarks of a questionable publisher, including:

  • The email’s author goes out of his or her way to indicate that the journal is from the USA; this is usually an indication that a journal is not from the USA.
  • Sending unsolicited emails to presenters at conferences, asking them to turn their presentations into a paper. Predatory publishers compete with each other, so this practice is increasing. They all want to be your first contact. They will often praise your earlier works.
  • Grammatical and expression errors; unidiomatic use of English.
  • The email is not properly signed; it may be signed only “Editor in Chief” without a name, or as in this case, it may contain only a single name.
  • The publisher is unfamiliar to the recipient; the members of the editorial board are unfamiliar.
  • The publisher uses a mailing address that belongs to a mail forwarding service: 228 East 45th Street, Ground Floor, #CN00000267, New York, NY 10017 (the address from the spam).
  • The journal has a broad scope.
  • The submission of the articles is done as an attachment to the email rather than through an automated journal management system.

“Overall, I would say consult my list if you are unsure (as Dr. Frost wisely did),” he said. “There are over 500 predatory publishers that publish thousands of separate journals. The competition among them has increased much and they all want your money. Be careful because some publishers do not mention the article processing charges in their spam. Then when someone submits a paper, it is quickly accepted and then the author is surprised with an invoice. Beware of all spam email solicitations for articles. Become familiar with the respected journals in your field and publish exclusively with them.”

Beall is mentioned in the August 7, 2014 issue of Nature (v. 512, p. 17). 

Have you received this type of spam email? Share your stories in the comments section below.

About Kim Pawlak

Kim Pawlak is Director of Publishing & Operations for the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). She has been writing about the textbook and academic authoring and publishing industry for 20 years.