Predatory publishers exploit OA business models by charging a publication fee without providing the services -- peer review, copyediting, dissemination -- that fee is meant to defray. Such publishers employ various kinds of deception, some subtle (phony editorial boards) some obvious (quick acceptance, sloppy or nonexistent editing).
Predatory publishers give a good practice a bad name. Respected journals such as PLoS have long charged publication fees, also known as article processing charges (APCs), which are often funded by grants or institutional subsidies. In exchange, reputable journals provide rigorous review and verification, but rather than providing access only to subscribers the resulting articles are made freely available.
1. Contact your librarian for a second opinion about the authenticity of a publisher or journal.
2. Use Declan Butler's checklist, originally published in Nature, to assess publishers and journals:
Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
Check that a journal's editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees.
Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.
Read some of the journal's published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experience.
Check that a journal's peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct.
Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks fishy, proceed with caution.
Use journal directories to identify important information about publications before submitting your work. Think Check Submit provides checklists to help you find trustworthy journals.
To assist faculty with identifying predatory journals the library now subscribes to this resource that provides a list of likely fraudulent academic journals.