Combatting Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences

Policy for Science


Predatory and fake journals, publishers and conferences increasingly plague the scientific enterprise. Their practices are well-known and prey on the pressure researchers feel to constantly publish. These include pay-to-publish models without peer review, fake editorial boards listing respected scientists, fraudulent impact factors, journal names deceptively similar to those of legitimate journals, paid-for review articles that promote fake science, and spam invitations to sham conferences with high registration fees. Though all researchers can be affected, early-career researchers and those from developing countries are especially vulnerable. 

Despite significant efforts to raise awareness of this problem within the research community and to expose suspected perpetrators, these entities continue to proliferate. In fact, the scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, threatening to cause long-term, widespread damage to knowledge generation, academic integrity and the research enterprise at large. Perhaps most critically, the proliferation of these profit-driven entities provides direct support to a spreading anti-science movement by producing what is actually “fake science”, thereby polluting the literature and diminishing society’s respect for science and its judgments. This has now become a crisis, in need of urgent counteraction.

The research enterprise must assume some responsibility for creating the enabling environment in which these schemes are bred, and in some cases, for their outright complicity in fueling the market for them. Urgently needed therefore from the scientific community is an effective, universally adopted strategy for eliminating this growing threat to rationality and wise decision-making around the globe. This strategy should be a coherent, international one that is designed by and centered on scientists, inasmuch as to be effective, it will need to mobilize the scientists and scientific institutions in every nation. 

The goals of this study are to:

1) Examine efforts to date to combat predatory and fake journals, publishers and conferences around the world;

2) Design clear journal and conference standards applicable across fields for assessing journal and conference quality;

3) Evaluate open peer review models and protocols; and

4) Provide concrete recommendations for addressing the problem, aimed at the academic community, open access and traditional publishers, funders of research, universities and research administrators, and policymakers. A final report will be produced.


This study aims to tackle the ‘supply’ side of these predatory practices. In addition, a planned companion study by IAP will evaluate and provide recommendations for improving research evaluation practices around the world, an issue closely tied to the persistence and growth of the predatory publishing and conference enterprise from the ‘demand’ side.