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Open Access FAQ

Information and resources addressing frequently asked questions on open access.

What is Predatory Publishing?

The fee-based Open Access models have opened the door for an increase in predatory publishers and conference organizers.  These publishers disguise themselves as legitimate Open Access publishers and differ from vanity presses in that the author is usually not aware that anything is deficient.  In traditional publishing, authors did not have to pay to have their material published, but now that there are legitimate journals one must pay to publish in, it becomes harder to identify scams.

Predatory publishers may:

  • lie about impact factors, indexing databases, or being a "leading publisher."
  • publish material previously published without receiving permission from the copyrights holder.
  • do little or no copy-editing.
  • lie about or refuse to disclose details about the peer-review process.
  • deliberately confuse their title with that of a legitimate journal or conference.

Librarian Jeffery Beall maintains a rigorously-researched list of possible predatory publishers according to this list of criteria.

Predatory Publishing and Authors' Rights

In addition to charging authors, predatory publishing can have hidden but more significant costs in terms of the author's rights.  Once a contract is signed that gives your copyrights to a publisher, you no longer own your work.  Depending on the contract, you may no longer have the right to publish your work in a journal, to post it on your website, or to include it as a part of a larger work.


Make sure you read the contract carefully and investigate any offers before you consider signing over copyright to your intellectual property.

Example of a Predatory Publishing Solicitation

Below is an example of an email sent by a predatory publisher targeting Vassar students (identifying information has been removed):

Dear <student>,

According to the Vassar College's electronic library, you submitted a paper entitled <thesis title> in the course of your postgraduate degree.

Since we are planning publications in this subject area, our editorial team would be glad to know whether you would be keen on publishing the above mentioned work with us.

<publisher> Publishing is a member of an international group having nearly 10 years of experience in the publication of high-quality research works from well-known institutions worldwide.

For your information, all our books are available in printed form and marketed across the globe through more than 80,000 booksellers worldwide.

Kindly let know if you would be interested in receiving more detailed information in this respect.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

--
<editor's name>
Acquisition Editor

What should I do if I suspect I've been targeted by a predatory publisher?

If you ever receive an offer about which you are unsure, feel free to forward it to a librarian (or send it to researchhelp@vassar.edu) and we will investigate the legitimacy of the company on your behalf. We are happy to advise you if you like. We don’t want to see you lose control of your own intellectual property.

You can also check this website, which keeps  a list of these publishers: http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/