New year, new resolutions ...but beware of fake journals and meetings


Each new year brings new resolutions, and for researchers this may mean a vow to learn more skills, attend more conferences, or finish writing up a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. While your intentions are good, those of others may not be and there are companies that prey on early-career researchers, using spam email and websites to lure and cheat them. Make sure you trust the sources of any offers and websites, and check with your colleagues and supervisor(s). Train your critical thinking skills and ask some key questions.



(1) The Think Check Attend website of KnowledgeE has a checklist to help you choose the right conference to present your research:

Organizers & Sponsors

  • Are you aware of the society or the association organizing this conference?
  • Can you easily identify the venue of the conference?
  • Is it the first time that this conference is being held?
  • Have you or your colleagues attended this conference before?
  • Is it clear what fees will be charged (conference fee, registration fees, …, etc.) and would these be waived if you are accepted as a speaker?
  • Are any of the sponsors involved in the conference?
  • Are you aware of any of them, especially with industry-related fields such as Engineering & Biomedical research?
  • Did you check the conference website? Is all the information (such as the attendance fees, submission date, conference date, editorial committee, program details and venue) presented in a proper way?
  • Have you read any papers from this conference proceedings before?

Agenda & Editorial Committee

  • Is there a clear information about the timeline and the agenda for the conference?
  • Do the scope and objectives of the conference fit your field and core interest or not?
  • Have you heard of the Keynote speakers?
  • Is the Editorial Committee listed on the website?
  • Have you heard of the Editorial Committee members before?
  • Is the Committee clear about the editorial control over presentations and the type of peer-review it uses?

Conference Proceedings

  • Is the Organizing Committee clear about where the proceedings will be published?
  • Does the conference make it clear which indexing services it can guarantee the published proceedings and to which indexers will it submit the proceedings for evaluation?
  • Is the publisher of the proceedings a member of a recognized industry initiative such as COPE, DOAJ, OASPA?
  • Also refer to Think. Check. Submit. check list for more details about publishing in the right journal at

(2) AuthorAid gives some advice for avoiding "predatory conferences".



(1) The Think Check Submit website has a checklist to help you choose the right conference to present your research (Edanz Group volunteered to translate the Japanese, Korean, Thai, and traditional Chinese versions on the Think Check Submit website):

  • Do you or your colleagues know the journal?
    – Have you read any articles in the journal before?
    – Is it easy to discover the latest papers in the journal?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the publisher?
    – Is the publisher name clearly displayed on the journal website?
    – Can you contact the publisher by telephone, email, and post?
  • Is the journal clear about the type of peer review it uses?
  • Are articles indexed in services that you use?
  • Is it clear what fees will be charged?
    – Does the journal site explain what these fees are for and when they will be charged?
  • Do you recognize the editorial board?
    – Have you heard of the editorial board members?
    – Do the editorial board mention the journal on their own websites?
  • Is the publisher a member of a recognized industry initiative?
    – Do they belong to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) ?
    – If the journal is open access, is it listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) ?
    – If the journal is open access, does the publisher belong to the Open Access Scholarly Publishers’ Association (OASPA) ?
    – Is the journal hosted on one of INASP’s Journals Online platforms (for journals published in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Central America and Mongolia) or on African Journals Online (AJOL, for African journals)?
    – Is the publisher a member of another trade association?

(2) This list gives websites of counterfeit journals, or "hijacked journals", posing as the websites of legitimate journals.


(3) Four organizations (COPE, DOAJ, OASPA, WAME) have just revised their joint Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, which form some of the criteria for membership of those organizations and are accepted as hallmarks of quality journals. Below is an unofficial checklist based on those best practices:

  • Is the website ethical, professional, honest, and clear?
    – Does the journal have an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)? 
    – Are the journal aims/scope, readership, and authorship criteria clear?
  • Is the name of the journal unique and clear?
  • Is the peer review model and process clear, and the timing reasonable?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the publisher/owner?
  • Can you easily identify and do you recognize the editor and editorial board?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the editorial office staff?
  • Are copyright policy and licensing terms clear, and consistently displayed in all versions?
  • Are any fees clearly explained, before manuscript submission?
  • How will the publisher and editor identify, prevent, and discourage research misconduct, and deal with allegations?
  • Are publishing ethics policies clearly stated, and cover:
    – Authorship and contributorship?
    – Complaints and appeals? 
    – Conflicts of interest? 
    – Data sharing and reproducibility? 
    – Journal ethical oversight? 
    – Intellectual property? 
    – Postpublication discussion and correction? 
  • Is the publication frequency clearly stated?
  • Is reader access clearly explained (including any fees)?
  • Is the electronic preservation plan clearly stated?
  • Is the business model clearly stated and are publishing fees independent from editorial decisions?
  • Is the advertising policy clearly stated?
  • Is any direct marketing appropriate, unobtrusive, and honest?

It is also important to check journal articles for evidence of best practices: for example, do they clearly show journal name, authorship and acknowledgments, copyright/licensing, ethical oversight (eg, ethics approval, participant consent), good citation practices, conflicts of interest and funding, data sharing and reproducibility, reasonable peer review time, quality peer review, and quality production?

Similarly, journal supplements should explain the peer review process and disclose any sponsors and their role in the production process; supplements that come from conferences should also give meeting details and roles of any sponsors. Supplement items (articles, reports, abstracts) should include the same declarations as main journal articles, including ethical oversight, funding, and conflicts of interest.


Dr Trevor Lane
Education Director and Senior Publishing Consultant
Edanz Group


Note: Edanz Group is a corporate associate member of COPE, and Dr Trevor Lane is a member of WAME and an individual associate member and Council Member of COPE. COPE is a founding and contributing organization of Think Check Submit.

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