Because many predatory publishers take advantage of the growing interest in Open Access publishing, a lot of people are understandably confused about how to identify a legitimate Open Access Journal from an illegitimate one.
. Here is a basic definition:
Open Access refers to a publication (journal, book, etc.) that is free to read, reuse, and redistribute.
When a publication is Open Access, that means that anyone in the world can access the publication, reuse the material for their own work to build on, and redistribute the publication (for example, in teaching).
Open Access is often contrasted with Subscription or Paywalled material, where a payment is needed to read the publication, and further sharing by a reader is restricted because the publisher owns copyright. Some Open Access journals charge authors a fee, called an Article Processing Charge (APC), meant to offset the lost revenue that the journal would have gotten from subscriptions. Open Access journals still adhere to the rigors of scholarly publishing by offering peer review by professionals in the field, editorial guidance from recognized scholars, and professional levels of editing and presentation.
Some illegitimate publishers co-opt the Open Access model by charging these Article Processing Charges, but fail to adhere to the rigorous standards of scholarly publishing. Many do not do peer review, or do so only on a superficial level. Many illegitimate journals are run by an editorial board of people from mixed disciplines who do not possess the expertise required to create a quality journal. These journals are akin to vanity presses where authors pay to have their work published, but the work itself is not professionally reviewed or vetted in any way.
To find a good quality Open Access journal, we recommend the Directory of Open Access Journals. This is an index of quality Open Access journals vetted by an international team of volunteers. Journal requirements, peer review systems, APC costs, and editorial board information are visible on each entry. Look for journals with the DOAJ Seal - these adhere to the highest standards for Open Access publications.
There are many good Open Access Publishers. Below we list some resources for identifying them - mostly scholarly publishing organizations that carefully vet their membership. This is not a comprehensive list! Have a suggestion for a publisher to add? Let us know!
Think, Check, Submit is perhaps the most efficient guideline for detecting a predatory publisher, and is an invaluable guideline for deciding if, where, and when to publish any scholarly work.