Open Access is a model of publishing that provides free access to scholarly literature. One means of financing open access journals is via Article Processing Charges (APCs). Most publishers charging these fees provide academics with services such as peer review and the hosting / archiving of content. They also rely on fellow academics of good standing to serve as reviewers or editors.
So-called “predatory publishers” are “primarily fee -collection operations”1 that rely on deceptive practices (e.g. highjacked journals, citation stacking, citing false editorial boards) to convince scholars to publish in their journals. They provide little or no services in return for the APC; and tend to publish anything submitted to them. They are problematic as they have no regard for the scholarly record; they endanger the reputation of scholars; and they drain the resources of academics, funding agencies and institutions. Their relationship to APCs has contributed to an incorrect assumption that Open Access = poor scholarship.
Young academics are some of the most frequently victimized scholars as they are both eager to publish and less familiar to with the scholarly publishing landscape; but that does not mean they are the only ones. Some predatory publishers have become good at mimicking the appearance of a real journal, or use names so close to established journals that people become fooled by them. This guide will provide you with some tools you can use to distinguish which are actual Open Access journals and which are fake. Ultimately, however you will also need to use the old maxim “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
1. Berger, Monica, and Jill Cirasella. “Beyond Beall’s List: Better Understanding Predatory Publishers.” College & Research Libraries News 76.3 (2015): 132-135. http://crln.acrl.org/content/76/3/132.full.pdf+html