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Is the journal or publisher reputable?

The increase in open access publishing has led to the emergence of many unscrupulous publishers. A term for journals is also "predatory journals".  Common signs for these publishers are:

  • Offers fast peer review process (which in fact never takes place)
  • Websites that look serious. Most often, editorial boards and impact factor are included (both of which are based on false information).
  • Aggressive email marketing.

To avoid accidentally publishing with a rogue publisher, follow the checklists in the guide Think.Check.Submit.

If a journal or publisher appears in the following databases, it is a measure of seriousness:

Further information

Questioned open access

There are also models and concepts of open access that you should look out for:


This term refers to when publishers try to use the term open access to take part in the open access movement, despite the fact that they do not allow open access publishing at all and do not meet the requirements of the Berlin Declaration.


The bronze open access means that a work is first published on a locked behind subscription and then released freely available after a period of time - free to read but not reuse, adapt or share. An explicit embargo period is common. Bronze is not considered to be a full-fledged open access publication. Licenses for how the publications may be used are often missing and several funders do not accept the model at all.


Grey open access refers to authors who upload their work to academic social networks (e.g. ResearchGate, or their own websites. This can be problematic because the author may be violating the publishers' licensing agreements. To avoid this when it comes to journals, it is important to investigate what it looks like with the publishers' licenses in SherpaRomeo.


Black open access often means ignoring copyright and not paying the financial costs of an article. The users of black open get free access to digital versions of articles without the knowledge and consent of the authors. Black open access emerged as a result of the growing demand for fast, easy, and free access to scientific materials. Material shared in this way may violate the publishers' licenses and copyrights.

This model can take different forms that you, as a writer, need to pay attention to:

  • The author of the article is asked to provide a copy via the link to an institutional archive
  • Logins are shared on social media with an unauthorized person to access content that requires a subscription.
  • pirated content websites, such as Sci-Hub and LibGen.