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Predatory Journals: Author Beware!


doi: 10.1097/RNJ.0000000000000176

Professor of Nursing, Graduate Program Director, Colorado Christian University, Editor, Rehabilitation Nursing

Our readers may not be aware of a growing trend in publishing where prospective authors are asked to pay a fee to have their manuscripts processed or to assure quick publication by those with unethical business practices. An increasing number of such journals do not adhere to the quality standards of scholarly, academic publishing. Journals may claim to have an impact factor or be indexed in Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), but these claims are often found to be false. Some journals do not have editors or peer reviewers. Some promise a short submission to print time to attract authors who will pay money to get published, only later to find out that their scholarly work is not considered credible when published in a predatory journal. Beall (2016) found that there were 882 predatory open access journals, and their growth was exponential. Oermann et al. (2016) found that the largest growth in predatory publishers and journals occurred in 2014 and later, with 140 journals from 75 publishers. Although predatory practices are occurring at an alarming rate across many disciplines, this editorial will give a brief overview of predatory journal practices and how to avoid them.

There are a few signals that should be considered red flags of a predatory journal. Many experienced editors and scholars who are members of the International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE) have been watching certain journals, called out others, and published research on this topic to protect authors who might be tempted to submit to a journal of ill repute. Be wary of journals that charge a fee for publication (“manuscript processing”) and promise a fast turn-around time. Do not rely solely on the journal’s website for accurate information or their inviting emails sent to you personally. Authors who need publications for tenure or promotion, or those whose work has been rejected by other journals, may be at risk of being drawn in by publishers offering journals with poor science.

Give due diligence to investigating any journal to which you plan to submit your work. Here are some questions to ask to avoid being the victim of predatory publishing: Does the journal have a Thompson-Rueters Impact Factor? Can you easily find articles from that journal in a literature search? Has the journal been around for only a short time? Do your colleagues know of this journal? Is the journal indexed in PubMed or CINAHL? Does the journal have a consistent history in number of articles published over a year’s worth of issues (Oermann et al., 2016)? If the answer to these questions is no or you are unsure, then buyer beware.

Additional questions to ask include: Does the journal promise to publish your manuscript within days or a few weeks? Are the authors and editorial board members from India (one of the more prominent countries engaging in this activity)? Is the website poorly designed? Are instructions confusing related to submission and the publishing process? Do you feel hounded to submit fees? Is there a lack of transparency in the description of the publishing process or the publisher? Does the journal say it covers a large amount of nursing specialties (i.e. you feel like they publish nearly anything related to nursing)? Do the articles published have grammar and/or spelling errors? If the answer to these questions is yes, think again before you submit.

There are additional resources for authors to assure a journal is not predatory. Check out Beall’s list of predatory publishers at Scholar. Use tools or checklists from editors at INANE or from help you avoid predatory journals for your valuable work. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) provides the standards for most scholarly nursing journals (see and INANE provides a list of vetted journals using the COPE principles of transparency.

Readers of Rehabilitation Nursing Journal (RNJ) can be assured that our specialty journal is not predatory. We charge no fees for publication. RNJ has a solid impact factor, is indexed, and gives the appropriate attention to the peer review and the publishing process that is expected of a scholarly nursing journal. Our editors participate in INANE and support high quality standards in publishing. You can find the RNJ editorial board members and editors listed in the front of each journal. We have a large number of well-qualified peer reviewers who volunteer their time. They are listed and thanked in the journal annually. Peer and editorial review is thorough. RNJ’s practices are transparent, and the editorial board, editors, and the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) board are committed to the best practices in publishing.



Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO, USA

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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Beall J. (2016). Beall’s list of predatory publishers 2016 [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Oermann M. H., Conklin J. L., Nicoll L. H., Chinn P. L., Ashton K. S., Edie A. H., … Budinger S. C. (2016). Study of predatory open access nursing journals. Journal of Nursing Scholarship: An Official Publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing/Sigma Theta Tau, 48(6), 624–632.
© 2018 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.