A scam. Predatory journals are low quality or fraudulent journals which take authors submission fees but offer little, no, or even negative value in return. They typically do not peer review, proof read or provide feedback on articles. They are generally not indexed in databases, have no significant readership and very low impact factors.
Not at all. Open Access (OA) is a reputable, mainstream response to the issue in scholarly publishing whereby the community has to pay significant amounts to access research it has itself funded. OA increases access to research and improves research impact and citations.
Predatory publishers exploit the author-pays mechanism of OA for fraudulent ends.
While some predatory journals are immediately obvious, many go to great lengths to look legitimate, including:
Plenty of experienced researchers have been caught out.
1. The journal's scope of interest includes unrelated subjects alongside legitimate topics.
2. Website contains spelling and grammar errors
3. Images or logos are distorted/fuzzy or misrepresented/unauthorized.
4. Website targets authors, not readers (i.e. publisher prioritizes making money over product).
5. The Index Copernicus Value (a bogus impact metric) is promoted.
6. There is no clear description of how the manuscript is handled.
7. Manuscripts are submitted by email.
8. Rapid publication is promoted, and promised.
9. There is no article retraction policy.
10. There is no digital preservation plan for content.
11. The APC (article processing charge) is very low (e.g., <$150)
12. A journal that claims to be open access either retains copyright of published research or fails to mention copyright.
13. Contact email address is non-professional and non-journal/publisher affiliated (e.g., @gmail.com, or @yahoo.com)
Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison.
Flattering emails will get you everywhere, except when they’re from junk journals. The Conversation, 2017.
Predatory publishers: the journals that churn out fake science. The Guardian, August 2018.