Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Biological Sciences: Open Access Publishing

Tools for Assessing the Reputation of Journals

Predatory Journal Red Flags

  • Grammatical and syntax errors in emails or publications
  • Website looks unprofessional
  • Journal is not indexed in well-known databases in your field (i.e. PubMed)
  • You cannot verify their claimed impact factor on InCites Journal Citation Reports
  • Does not list author fees on website
  • Promises fast publication
  • Does not provide clear contact info including a physical address, email address, and phone number
  • The contact email is from a free provider (i.e., yahoo@com) 

Open Access Explained!

A short video explaining the history and importance of open access publishing from PHD Comics (8:23).

Publishing Preprints

A preprint is a complete draft of a manuscript that has not yet undergone peer review for formal publication. Preprints have been popular in other disciplines such as physics for many years but have recently been gaining traction in biology. Biologists can post a preprint to open access servers such as bioRxiv and subsequently submit the manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal. 

Preprints have a number of benefits including:


A large number of journals (~ 119) have partnered with bioRxiv to allow direct transfer of preprints and metadata to their manuscript submission page. You can find that list here. Most other life science journals allow preprints prior to publication.

If you are not sure if a journal allows preprints, you can ask us.

What is a Predatory Journal?

Predatory journals are open access journals of questionable quality and with exploitative business models. Their fraudulent practices include:

  • having little or no quality control
  • not providing the services that journals normally provide such as editing and peer-review
  • mimicking the names and formatting of reputable journals
  • listing well-known accomplished researchers as editors without their knowledge
  • using flattering emails to entice researchers to publish in their journals
  • hiding publication fees that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars


This page will highlight news articles and policy related to the rise of predatory publishing and provide tools to help researchers assess the quality of journals. If you want additional assistance in choosing a journal for publication, please contact us.

From University of Manitoba Libraries (1:18)

Predatory Publishing in the News

Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and Neuroscience Librarian

Profile Photo
Melanie Gainey
Mellon Library
4th Floor Mellon Institute

How Open Is It?