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Scholarly Communications

A practical guide to scholarly publishing and engagement

Key Resources

Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing

Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing

Summarized from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE): Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.pdf

Peer Review Process

  • With the exception of editorial content, all journal content should be peer-reviewed.
  • The journals peer review process should be clearly stated on the journal's website. This includes specific policies and procedures about peer review. For example, is the journal's peer review blinded or double blinded? How many reviewers look at each submission? Are reviewers given adequate time to thoroughly consider and respond to the article? What is the acceptance rate of the journal? 

Governing Body

  • The journal should have an editorial board or governing body that is clearly identified on the journal's website and qualified in fields relevant to the journal's stated aims and scope.

Editorial Team/Contact Information

  • Unfortunately predatory or "fake" journals are known to misrepresent their editorial staff on their journal's websites. This even includes representing known experts in the field who have nothing to do with the journal as editors.
  • The editorial board should be clearly identified with up-to-date contact information for verification. Be wary of journals with a contact address that is a PO Box or unverifiable location, or who do not include a specific person as a contact.

Author Fees

  • Any potential fees associated with publication, such as author processing charges, required editorial services, etc., should be clearly stated to the author prior to author submission, on the journal website where the submitting author is like to find them. 
  • Fee amounts, timing of fees, and conditions of fees should be clearly stated. 


  • Copyright and licensing information should be clearly displayed on the journal's website, for authors and readers. Such information would indicate copyright owners, author's rights upon publication, and terms of use and reuse.
  • Published including in HTML or PDF format should also indicate licensing terms. 

Identification & Statement of Handling Research Misconduct

  • Where research misconduct is alleged to have taken place in a published work, the journal should take action in investigating the allegation and identifying the publication publicly where misconduct was found. (See COPE guidelines on research misconduct). 
  • Research misconduct could include plagiarism, falsifying research data, citation manipulation, etc. 

Ownership & Management

  • The journal's website includes unequivocal information about the ownership and management of the journal. 


  • Presentation and maintenance of the journal's website reflects a high editorial and ethical standard. 

Name of Journal

  • The journal's title should be unique and not similarly titled to existing publications or organizations such as to mislead or confuse readers and authors. 

Conflicts of Interest

  • The journal's website should describe the journal's policies and process around conflicts of interest related to peer review, author, and/or editorial staff. 


  • Costs related to access should be indicated on the journal website (is the journal open access or subscription-based?)

Revenue Sources

  • Information about the journal's sources of revenue should be stated, such as author fees, advertising, institutional or organizational sponsorship, etc.

Advertising Policy

  • If the journal benefits from advertising as a source of revenue, the journal should provide information around advertising policies and practices such as whether journal content or readership impacts advertising choices. 

Publication Schedule

  • Frequency of publication should be indicated. 


  • In case of discontinuation, the journal should state its plan for electronic back-up of the journal content. 

Direct Marketing Policy

  • When the journal engages in direct marketing (such as soliciting authors for papers) the marketing must be meaningfully targeted and non-invasive. 

Evaluating at the Article Level

  • Does the article fit with the journal's scope?
  • Are the references recent?
  • Are the limitations of the study addressed?
  • Does the article mention relevant ethics statement (conflict of interest, ethics committee approval, etc.)?
  • Does the author's stated affiliation indicate relevant expertise on the paper's topic?
  • Is the funding source/grant acknowledged?

Predatory Journals

Predatory publishing refers a pay-to-publish model with low academic standards. Predatory journals aggressively solicit authors to submit articles with the promise of speedy publication, for a fee. Predatory journals by definition have little to no peer review (very high to 100% acceptance rates) and generally are not in keeping with the standards of ethical publishing. 

For authors, publishing in these low quality journals can be a poor outlet for quality work and financially exploitative. For the scientific community, they muddy the waters of legitimacy as these non-peer reviewed journals are increasingly cited. 

Features of predatory journals:

  • Little to no peer review. On the journal's homepage, the peer review process may be fabricated or not stated. 
  • Pay-to-publish. The journal charges a fee for publication prior to "peer review" or without peer review. (Note: many legitimate journals charge author processing fees. However, these should never be charged or paid prior to peer-review/acceptance of the article after rigorous peer review.)
  • The journal's website is contains typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors. 
  • The journal's website misrepresents editorial staff and/or provides little to no contact information. 
  • The journal's website falsifies indexing status or Impact Factor/Citation Score. 
  • The journal is not indexed or discoverable in recognized scholarly databases such as PubMed or Web of Science. 
  • The journal may be associated with an ISSN and/or not grant permanent identifiers to articles (such as DOIs) or promise long-term electronic archiving of the article.