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Understanding Predatory Publishers

The objective of this guide is to help VDOT personnel learn what "predatory publishers" are, how to evaluate publisher integrity and ways to protect yourself, your rights and your professional reputation.

Journal Evaluation Tool

This simple Journal Evaluation Tool was created by the librarians at Loyola Marymount University. It uses an interactive rubric with explicit Open Access Journal criteria that allows the user to rate a journal on a 1-3 scale for 16 different criteria. Plug in your ratings to calculate an overall rating of Good, Fair or Poor for a journal. 

Check List

Want to publish? Interested in a journal but not sure if it's trustworthy? If you can answer "yes" to most of these questions, consider submitting your article: 

1. Would YOU rely on articles from the journal you're considering publishing in?
Have you ever cited the journal? Have trusted professional colleagues cited it? If the answer is "no," is that because you're unfamiliar with it, or because of concerns about the quality of the journal?

2. If you have questions, can you easily tell how to contact the publisher and who/what they are?
Are they part of a known society or association, or do they appear to be a "scholarly" publisher?
Note: Where they are (physical location) may be less important than how accessible and how transparent they are about Who they are.

3. Do they seem to have adequate peer review controls?  
Note: Reputable publishers provide precise details about their peer review process.

4. What is the journal's Impact Factor in Journal Citation Reports?
Note: Although this is a point of prestige for you as an author, the Impact Factor may be something that can be calculated, but it's validity and relevance have been called into question. What is considered a "good" Impact Factor varies by discipline. If you need assistance, contact the VDOT Research Library.

5. Does the publisher charge a publications fee, also known as an Article Processing Fee (APC)?  
If so, is it clear to you why the fee is charged and exactly how much is charged?  Are there hidden fees?
Note: A journal with an APC need not be a deal breaker, as many "legitimate" journals charge publication fees as part of their business model for scholarly publication.

6. Do you recognize the names and/or respect the reputations of people on the editorial review board?
Can you even see who's on the board? What are their qualifications?

7. Is the journal indexed in the places in which you need it to be indexed? Is it indexed at all?  
If it is indexed, does it seem to be "selective" indexing (an article here or there) or "full" indexing (all articles, all issues)?
Note: For transportation research, check to see if the TRID Database has citations to its articles. For all forms of engineering, consider doing the same with a Compendex search. Other disciplines (Business, Economics, Finance, Human Resources, IT, Public Affairs, etc.) may be indexed in a variety of other online tools.

Still Need Help?

If you want help with the legwork, contact the VDOT Research Library. We can check a special subscription tool called "Journal Citation Reports" to verify a journal's citation impact factor and we can help you in other ways. However, always remember (if you are a VTRC Researcher) that your Associate Director and the VTRC Director are the final authority and provide final approval on all decisions related to publication.

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