Not all journals are equal. This has long been known but in the past the difference has only been that some were more prestigious than others. More recently, new publishers have appeared who appear on the surface to be professional companies but who are not always what they seem. Such journals often contain some articles that are of a very poor standard but they are very difficult to spot. Worse, some researchers are duped into paying fees to submit their research for publication in spurious open access journals that then goes uncited.
Avoiding predatory journals
Use the Discovery Service and the specialist databases listed under the links on the My Subject Library web pages. Everything you find here is guaranteed to be reliable. In contrast, Google Scholar will show you articles wherever they are published. We therefore recommend you avoid using it. If you do use Google Scholar, please take great care to check any articles published in any unfamiliar journals. If you can find the journal title (or the article) using the Discovery Service, it is a proper article and worth reading. If not, please check with a librarian to make sure you have not found something dubious.
For researchers (and anyone else who wants to check for themselves!)
The Research Support Team in the Library have produced a comprehensive checklist for checking whether an unfamiliar journal you are either about to cite or even publish an article in is reputable or questionable.
As ever, if you are unsure, want a second opinion, or would like to develop your skills further, please consult our experts.
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