Don’t Be Fooled: COPE’s Tips for Choosing Credible Open Access Journals

By Connor Sodak on Mar 2, 2020

The emergence of Open Access journals has created a multitude of opportunities for editors and authors to submit their research to credible and distinguished journals while avoiding the costly fees that might have prevented them from submission in the past. As more journals continue to make the transition to Open Access, it has become difficult for authors to identify established and trustworthy journals within the vast collection available within the academic market. It is imperative for authors to retain the ability to locate legitimate journals and separate genuine and established journals from others that might be predatory.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) provides a bevy of resources for prospective authors and editors to use when searching for a reputable journal to submit their work. Because IGI Global is a full member of COPE, all IGI Global authors, editors, and reviewers have access to these resources.

Identifying and researching indices is an integral step that authors can take when searching for a scholarly and credible journal. Established indices filter out journals that are seen as controversial, deceptive, misleading, or untrustworthy, and allow academicians, post-doctoral students, and practitioners to browse legitimate journals. Several of these indices are affiliated with COPE and can be found on their website for the authors’ convenience.

A featured member is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This curated online index provides a wide variety of first rate, peer-reviewed, open access journals that are easily accessible and freely available for article submission. Each journal accepted to DOAJ is vetted to ensure the highest ethical standards are being followed based on criteria that has also been acknowledged by such organizations as COPE and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) as being an authoritative indicator of a journals transparency. This directory provides valuable information of high-quality open access journals and compiles them all into one singular database. This allows editors to select a journal that their research best fits without any concern of their work being tainted by predatory or vanity organizations.

Authors can also take advantage of the ‘Think.Check.Submit’ campaign which offers a checklist that authors can use to determine if the journal they wish to submit their article to is credible. Such items on the checklist include asking whether the journal has a recognizable editorial board and whether the publisher of the journal belongs to any established industry initiatives including as a member of COPE.

Another critical step in finding established and credible journals for submission, is for authors and editors to familiarize themselves with the issue of predatory publishing. The publication of legitimate research in a predatory journal can be disastrous for a researcher as that knowledge will not benefit from the dissemination channels provided by legitimate publishers and thus, will suffer from disuse and poor citations. Additionally, most all reputable journals will not publish articles that were previously published, leaving researchers who find later that they published in a predatory journal with the inability to move the article to a reliable source, thus wasting resources and research funding. Therefore, identifying the characteristics and red flags that are associated with untrustworthy publishing sources is of great assistance for authors, reviewers, and editors.

COPE recently published “Discussion Document: Predatory Publishing” that provides an extensive overview of this deceptive phenomenon in the academic realm. While highlighting various aspects including recruitment processes, key qualities, affected parties, and legal responses, this extensive study offers fundamental analysis of predatory journals and their methods for deceiving prospective authors, publishers, peer reviewers, editors, and institutions. As outlined in the report, COPE reveals the common indicators of predatory publishing:

“Commonly co-occurring features that may sufficiently characterise predatory publications are:

• Hidden or unclear author fees,

• The lack of quality peer review of articles by experts in the field, and

• The guarantee of acceptance and/or the promise of very fast publication times (eg, within one week or 48 hours).

Other possible indicators of predatory publishing may include:

• Incomplete or misleading reporting of policies (including copyright and user licenses), processes, personnel, performance, and affiliations in the journal’s website or correspondence,

• Poor language usage (including poor grammar) and low production quality, both in the presentation of the journal’s description and guidelines, and in some of the articles that are published,

• The lack of ethics policies and need for ethics declarations, particularly related to animal and human studies, conflicts of interest, and study funding,

• The lack of any corrections/retractions of articles, and

• The lack of ability for articles to be retrieved on an electronic search platform in perpetuity, or for articles to be retrieved at all despite being listed in a table of contents.” (COPE Council, 2019)

They also go on to reveal advice for authors including using the ‘Think.Check.Submit.” campaign as mentioned earlier, as well as checking that journal names are real, verifying metrics and index status, and being mindful when paying author fees (COPE Council, 2019). This is one of several integral sources, made available by COPE, that editors and authors can continually reference when searching for a quality journal to publish with.

Finding and deciding on a legitimate and credible journal to work with remains a challenge in today’s academic market due to oversaturation, ethical risks, and the emergence of Open Access. However, COPE is continually working to make this process easy, accommodating, and stress free for authors and editors who wish to submit their research to established and respected journals.

As a full member of COPE, meaning that all IGI Global publishing processes were scrutinized for a one year period by the COPE council before being deemed as adhering to COPEs core practices and principles of transparency, IGI Global is recognized as a reputable publisher who conducts no practices that align with predatory or vanity publishing. As such, all IGI Global journals are recognized by COPE as maintaining a strict double-blind peer review process and very clearly uphold the strictest ethical standards. If you have research that you are looking to publish in a credible journal, please visit IGI Global’s Call for Papers page for a full list of journal’s currently seeking submissions.


COPE Council. COPE Discussion Document: Predatory Publishing. November 2019

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About IGI Global: Founded in 1988, IGI Global, an international academic publisher, is commitment to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically-advanced publishing processes. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 100,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. To learn more about IGI Global, click here.

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