Think and check before you submit

How do you know that the journal you’re submitting to is legitimate?

You’ve done the research and drafted your precious paper  – make sure that you submit it to a reputable publisher where it will get the attention it deserves

Choosing a journal to submit your papers to is becoming increasingly difficult due to the rapid growth of scholarly publishing companies and the number of journals being published. The growth of open access publishing (where authors pay to publish and access to articles is free for the reader) has led to the emergence of some publishers and journals with questionable marketing practices, poor production values and unclear peer review practices.

For authors, it is important that all your research outputs are published in reputable journals with transparent peer review practices and all the support that you might expect from a legitimate publisher.

A new campaign, Think, Check, Submit has put together a simple check list to help researchers evaluate journals that they are thinking of submitting their research to so that they can avoid ‘predatory’ or ‘deceptive’ publishers.

The campaign is supported by organisations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Springer Nature.


Before you submit, think about whether the journal you have in mind is the right one for your research. Don’t be swayed by emails that you might receive inviting you to submit – always check out the journal first. There are lots of resources that you can use to find and compare journals in your field. Always do your homework before you submit.


Looking at a journal website can give you the answers to your questions about the journal but it is always worth asking your colleagues too. Some deceptive journals have been known to copy content from legitimate journal websites and construct fake editorial boards (often without the real academic’s knowledge or permission).

  1. Have you heard of the journal? Have you or your colleagues read and cited any of the content before? How easy is it to find which papers are in the latest issue of the journal?
  2. Are the contact details for the publisher easy to find on the site? It might also be worth checking any addresses on Google Maps – is the publisher headquarters actually a terraced house in a housing estate? Are there legitimate-looking telephone numbers and email addresses given on the site? If you are not sure, try ringing or emailing – a good publisher will email back or have someone answering the ‘phone.
  3. Is the journal clear about which method of peer review is used? How are peer reviewers recruited?
  4. Do articles from the journal appear in some of the bibliographic databases that you use? You might expect an established journal to be listed in Scopus, Web of Knowledge, CAB Abstracts, PubMed etc. Check the coverage of these databases to see if they include the journal you’re interested in submitting to.
  5. Can you find out easily how much publishing will cost? The journal website should give details of all charges, what they are for and how to pay them.
  6. Check out the Editorial Board – do you recognise them? Are they all alive (some journals have used pictures of dead academics!)? Do the editorial board members acknowledge their role with the journal on their websites?
  7. Is the journal a member of some of the recognised industry organisations? Do they belong to COPE? If it is an open access journal are they a member of OASPA and listed in DOAJ? Don’t take their word for it, do some sleuthing for yourself.
think check submit

Make sure your scholarly output is published with a trusted journal


When you are happy that the journal you’ve selected is legitimate, submit your paper. Don’t forget to enter your ORCID iD if you get chance during the submission process.

Help and support

There’s more information on checking out journals at Think, Check,Submit. If you would like help with selecting a journal or making comparisons between journals, contact the University’s Research Publications Adviser.

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