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Scholarly Communications@WSU

A guide for Faculty and Librarians covering DigitalCommons@WayneState, Author's Rights, Open Access, and other related topics.

Disentangling from Predatory Publishers

The best way to disentangle is to avoid entanglement in the first place.

  1. Educate Yourself
    1. Predatory behavior happens because you are disconnected from the economic consequences of scholarly publishing. You are not accustomed to evaluating the business models of the journals you publish in. Libraries have done that for you, and wrestled with the frustrations of exploitative publisher practices for years so that you don’t have to. Now you yourself are paying directly, and you no longer have the luxury of pleading ignorance about the way scholarly publishing monetizes your labor.
      1. Think of high profile library cancellations of journals, typified by University of Montreal in 2014 ( and again this year (
    2. Learn about your powers under the Copyright Law. Until you sign something, YOU OWN YOUR COPYRIGHT. If you co-author a paper with multiple colleagues, YOU ALL OWN THE ENTIRE COPYRIGHT INDIVIDUALLY – each of you can exercise all of the rights under copyright independent of the other (yes, it can lead to complications). The publisher’s leverage rests entirely on securing your copyright from you. Until you transfer your copyright, you have the leverage. Consult or to learn about what that leverage means for you.
    3. You may be laboring under the assumption that all OA is alike. Accept the reality that there are reputable OA journals and publishers, and learn how to evaluate what and who those are. Use a checklist, like Grand Valley’s or DOAJs or Paul Blobaum’s 
  2. Be responsible for yourself
    1. ​Do your homework when considering an opportunity to contribute your labor to a publisher or to publish in a particular journal. Get out of the mindset of trusting the scholarly communication system to coddle you -- it never actually has.  Who is it that’s asking for your copyright, and what are their practices? Don’t wait until its too late.
    2. Familiarize yourself with Beall’s list, but crosscheck with a reputable Open Access quality indicator like DOAJ or OASPA. Pay attention to who publishes the journals you’re considering, and what those publisher’s reputations are.
    4. Learn your discipline’s OA publishing outlets. Learn how to read a call for papers from an unknown outlet. For instance,

Once you’re entangled, disentanglement is 1000x more difficult. If you find that you have been taken in:

  1. Do not continue
    1. Withdraw your article, withdraw your name from reviewer lists.
    2. Do not pay a fee, especially once it becomes clear that the operation is illegitimate.
    3. Do not sign anything, do not transfer your copyright.
  2. Be loud
    1. Contact University Counsel. If a publisher has infringed on your copyright – published you without your consent, for instance – consider litigation.
    2. Contact the publisher. Demand to be removed from the editorial board, list of reviewers, etc.
    3. Report the publisher to appropriate authorities (FTC?
    4. Take to the web. Disavow the predatory practice loudly and often on your blog, your website, Twitter, Facebook. If you don’t have a web presence, now’s the time. Comment if possible where your work has been illegitimately posted. Craft your own narrative in opposition to the predatory scholarly record.
      Communicate with your colleagues to tell your side of the story, so that your disciplinary network understands the truth.
  3. Employ technology
    1. Report / flag spam.
    2. Block publisher emails, IPs.
    3. Do not call list