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Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, ethnobotany, prehistory, plant genetics
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Aroideana, Economic Botany, Farming Matters, PLoSOne

Founding Member

Work: ethnobotany, plant ecology and genetics, human ecology, agricultural history, archaeology, museology
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Economic Botany, Ethnobotany Research and Applications, New Scientist, Minpaku Anthropology Newsletter, Archaeology in Oceania

Journals of no repute, and journal traps

By: Research Cooperative
Posted in: Publishing

Here at the Research Cooperative we wish to support new journals and publishers that are genuinely able to support research communication by authors, research institutions, and academic associations.

This must include journals of no repute, since new journals by definition have not had time to develop a reputation, good or bad.

We therefore need ways to weed out scam or near-scam journals that have been created in order to trap authors and collect author fees.... another term for this is 'predatory publishing' (see the Scholarly Open Access blog on this subject).

Even if a journal is being produced in good faith, authors have a right to know exactly who is publishing their work, and how, and why.

Every author should seek such information before choosing a publisher and publication. It is naturally difficult for new journals to build their reputation, and to gain sufficient support to gain long term stability.

Whenever a new journal is started, there is always a risk that it will fail soon (within months or a few years), and the authors' work will be lost or no longer easy to find.

Accepting such risk is reasonable if:

- we want to support the journal with our contributions,

- the journal or publisher is making sincere efforts for good reasons, and

- a secure repository exists for the issues published, so that they can be found even if the journal ceases to be published and the journal website is closed.

We do not support publishers and journals that are managed anonymously. We may choose to delete anonymous or suspicious requests for the attention of our members and authors, without notification.

The owners of such journals are clearly unwilling to take responsibility for long term management of the journals. There is no reason for authors to trust them, even if the owners have a sincere wish to help others.

Full or substantial transparency in the operation of a publisher or journal is the primary requirement for support from our network.

We do have further criteria for acceptance or rejection. Each case will be judged according to a range of criteria. Further criteria are indicated below.

Negative attributes of a publisher or journal

1. The journal claims an international or high reputation despite being no more than, say one or two or three years old.

2. The journal description uses a template text that can be easily found on many other new journals, is not original in any way, and is not cogent.

3. No specific historical background is given, indicating why the journal was created, by the particular people or organisations involved in creating it.

4. The chief editor or secretary are not identified by name and address, or details cannot be verified by more than one means, or consist only of links to profiles set up on free social networks.

5. Contact details are similarly insufficient for editorial board members.

6. Supporting organisations or institutions are not identified with details that can be verified by more than one means, or the details consist only of links to profiles set up on free social networks or directory sites.

7. All important email addresses (editors, board members, info, journal contact address, fee recipients etc.) end in non-institutional suffixes (e.g. and, or end in suffixes belonging to the domain of the publisher or journal.

8. Journal details cannot be found in reputable journal databases and monitoring services such as Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), ScienceDirect, FirstSearch at,, or SCImago Journal & Country Rank. (NB In the WorldCat search system, the 8 digit ISSN number must be entered with a hyphen in the middle).

9. Journal and publisher details are mainly or only found in databases or directories that have no good reputation, accept all submissions, or are not focused on academic or educational publications.

If a journal cannot be found using an ISSN number reported on the journal website, then this is immediately a cause for concern, since the cost to register a journal is not high, and the process is quick (from my own experience with a museum serial based in Japan). Journals can help themselves by linking their website to the search field of a reliable ISSN search service.

10. Authors are asked to submit and commit an accepted paper (e.g. by signing a copyright statement) to the journal before knowing who or what will be receiving any payment needed for processing or distribution.

11. The copyright statement is effective immediately, from the date of signing, rather than being effective only if and after the article has been published. Authors should be able to withdraw a publication at any time before an actual publication deadline, if they have a good reason to, without the publisher being able to claim ownership of copyright of the unpublished paper.

12. The copyright policy of the publication or publisher is not explained in a public statement, or will not be explained to the author until after the paper has been accepted or published.

13. The journal or publisher asks authors to transfer all possible copyrights and use-rights to the journal or publisher, including for example: copying for educational purposes, translation rights, archiving rights, and other rights and uses that authors might like to keep or at least negotiate; a journal can benefit from favourable (and free!) publicity if authors and readers are free to copy and transmit articles for research and educational purposes, so a tight copyright policy also suggests a short-sight journal management.

14. The journal title is badly designed and does not correspond to the journal aims described elsewhere in the journal description or website. For example, the title may contain redundant terms, or indicate a theme that is either much more narrow or much broader than that described in a full explication of the journal aims.

15. Journal operating costs or funding sources or supporting organisation(s) are not explained in any concrete terms, and there is no way to access a public record of the accounts of the journal or the publisher

Note: for truly global academic publishers that are listed public companies, and for many public research organisations, we can at least expect to see some public record in the form of annual reports, even if these do not refer to specific journals (privately held companies are usually not legally required to reveal a public record, though it may be to their advantage to do so).

16. Although the journal is evidently based in a country with low income levels (e.g. as indicated by the composition of the editorial board), author fees are high relative to income levels in that country, and are not expressed in the currency of that country.

17. The journal, journal editor, or journal publisher have no discoverable reputation. Of course, this is unfair for new journals and new publishers, but newcomers to academic publishing must accept that it takes time to build up a publication from nothing. Reputation is where much of the value of any publication resides, especially in the academic world. It can be established with personal and local networks, a small-scale publication well-made, and then gradually expand.

18. The website of the publisher or journal has no 'Terms of Service' (TOC) statement, or similar statement, or the TOC link does not work.

19. The website of the publisher or journal has no 'Support' page or link, or the 'Support' link does not work.

20. The website of the publisher or journal has no 'Privacy' statement or link, or the 'Privacy' link does not work.

Suggestions for other criteria are welcome (please comment below, or contact me with a private message)

I, for one, would like to see journals offer forums where readers, authors, and journal editors can all meet and discuss any aspect of a journal's operation - i.e. an open feedback loop, with appropriate moderation.

These are serious matters. We do need help from Co-op members in order to avoid introducing false or misleading information into our network. (Contact the author of this message if you can help).

See also this comment: Know a good journal when you see it!

Further resources:

Scholarly Open Access (Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing)

Update (3rd April 2017): the above privately maintained site became an established go-to reference but ceased operation abruptly in 2016. Please see the Internet Archive and other sources for information about the site and the efforts of Jeffrey Beall, the site author.

Bikas blog(comments on computer science journals, and criteria for verifying them)

Brian Martin(scientific fraud and the power structure of science)

Fake Journals Team (no updates since 2011; link deactivated here 3rd April 2017)


Orlene Mcilfatrick
22/05/12 02:41:15AM @orlene-mcilfatrick:

Thanks for this Peter, it's a symptom of the internet age that there are new 'e-journals' or 'internet published journals' springing up quite often in various fields...I've noted several in archaeology. Many are set up by well meaning and enthusiatic graduate sutdents, local amateur/professional groups or NPO's but there do seem to be some that have.....other agendas. Those of us who are just starting out in our careers and new to publishing have to keep these things in mind and learn how to spot fakes.