One year of unsolicited e-mails: the modus operandi of predatory journals and publishers

Fernanda Santos de Oliveira Sousa, Paulo Nadanovsky, Izabel Monteiro Dhyppolito, Ana Paula Pires dos Santos


Objectives: To quantify, characterize and analyze e-mail from predatory journals (PJ) received by an academic in dentistry. Materials and methods: E-mails received in 2019 and suspected of being potentially predatory were pre-selected. The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) checklist was applied to identify the suspected biomedical PJ, including the following criteria: article processing charge (APC), fake impact factor, the journal being listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). We also extracted information on the lack of an impact factor on Journal Citations Reports, non-journal affiliated contact e-mail address, flattering language, article and/or personal citation, unsubscribe link, being listed in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) current catalog and indexed on Medline. Results: A total of 2,812 unsolicited suspected e-mails were received, and 1,837 requested some sort of manuscript; among these, 1,751 met some of the OHRI criteria. Less than half (780/1,837, 42%) referred to some area of dentistry. The median APC was US$399. A false impact factor was mentioned in 11% (201/1,837) of the e-mails, and 27% (504/1,837) corresponded to journals currently listed in the NLM catalog. Journals listed in DOAJ and COPE sent 89 e-mails. Conclusions: The email campaign from PJ was high and recurrent. Researchers should be well informed about PJ’ modus operandi to protect their own reputation as authors and that of science.


Biomedical research; Education, Medical Open access publishing; Access to information; Editorial policies; Electronic mail


Liesegang TJ. The continued movement for open access to peer-reviewed literature. Am J Ophthalmol. 2013;156(3):423-32.

Khan F, Moher D. Predatory Journals: do not enter. UOJMePub. 2017:1-5.

Butler D. Investigating journals: the dark side of publishing. Nature. 2013(495):433-5.

Grudniewicz A, Moher D, Cobey KD, Bryson GL, Cukier S, Allen K, et al. Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature. 2019;576(7786):210-2.

Forero DA, Oermann MH, Manca A, Deriu F, Mendieta-Zerón H, Dadkhah M, et al. Negative effects of "predatory" journals on global health research. Ann Glob Health. 2018;84(4):584-9.

Brainard J. Articles in 'predatory' journals receive few or no citations. Science. 2020;367(6474):129.

Björk B-C, Kanto-Karvonen S, Harviainen JT. How frequently are articles in predatory open access journals cited. Publications. 2020;8(17).

Manca A, Moher D, Cugusi L, Dvir Z, Deriu F. How predatory journals leak into PubMed. CMAJ. 2018;190(35):E1042-E5.

Manca A, Cugusi L, Cortegiani A, Ingoglia G, Moher D, Deriu F. Predatory journals enter biomedical databases through public funding. BMJ. 2020;371:m4265.

Moher D, Srivastava A. You are invited to submit…. BMC Med. 2015;13:180.

Dagens D. 5 Predator publishing or fake science? A case series of 75 unsolicited emails received from ‘predator journals’. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. 2019;24(Suppl 1):A3-A4.

Wilkinson TA, Russell CJ, Bennett WE, Cheng ER, Carroll AE. A cross-sectional study of predatory publishing emails received by career development grant awardees. BMJ Open. 2019;9(5):e027928.

Mercier E, Tardif PA, Moore L, Le Sage N, Cameron PA. Invitations received from potential predatory publishers and fraudulent conferences: a 12-month early-career researcher experience. Postgrad Med J. 2018;94(1108):104-8.

Cobey KD, de Costa E Silva M, Mazzarello S, Stober C, Hutton B, Moher D, et al. Is This conference for real? Navigating presumed predatory conference invitations. journal of oncology practice. 2017;13(7):410-3.

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Centre for Journalology. How to detect a potencial predatory/deceptive journal [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 ago 29]. Availabre from:

Cobey KD, Lalu MM, Skidmore B, Ahmadzai N, Grudniewicz A, Moher D. What is a predatory journal? A scoping review. F1000Res. 2018;7:1001.

Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, et al. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Med. 2017;15(1):28.

Cukier S, Helal L, Rice DB, Pupkaite J, Ahmadzai N, Wilson M, et al. Checklists to detect potential predatory biomedical journals: a systematic review. BMC Med. 2020;18(1):104.

Cobey KD, Grudniewicz A, Lalu MM, Rice DB, Raffoul H, Moher D. Knowledge and motivations of researchers publishing in presumed predatory journals: a survey. BMJ Open. 2019;9(3):e026516.

Bohannon J. Who's afraid of peer review? Science. 2013;342(6154):60-5.

Kakamad FH, Salih AM, Mohammed SH. Predatory journals: evolution keeps them under the radar. Nature. 2020;580(7801):29.

Dobusch L, Heimstädt M, Mayer K, Ross-Hellauer T. Defining predatory journals: no peer review, no point. Nature. 2020;580(7801):29.

Asadi A, Rahbar N, Rezvani MJ, Asadi F. Fake/Bogus Conferences: their features and some subtle ways to differentiate them from real ones. Sci Eng Ethics. 2018;24(2):779-84.

Mackenzie RJ. Inside a "Fake" Conference: a journey into predatory science: technology networks [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 ago 19]. Availabre from:

Heasman PA. Unravelling the mysteries of predatory conferences. Br Dent J. 2019;226:228-30.

Mazzarello S, Fralick M, Clemons M. A simple approach for eliminating spam. Curr Oncol. 2016;23(1):e75-6.

Cortegiani A, Longhini F, Sanfilippo F, Raineri SM, Gregoretti C, Giarratano A. Predatory open-access publishing in anesthesiology. Anesth Analg. 2019;128(1):182-7.

Shen C, Björk BC. 'Predatory' open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Med. 2015;13:230.

Menon V. Hijacked journals: what they are and how to avoid them [Internet] 2019. [cited 2020 jun 10]. Availabre from:

Aromataris E, Stern C. Supporting a definition of predatory publishing. BMC Med. 2020;18(1):125.

Think. Check. Submit [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2020 nov 24]. Availabre from:

Silver A. Controversial website that lists 'predatory' publishers shuts down. Nature [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2017 January 18]. Availabre from:

Eykens J, Guns R, Rahman AIMJ, Engels TCE. Identifying publications in questionable journals in the context of performance-based research funding. PLoS One. 2019;14(11):e0224541.

Sorokowski P, Kulczycki E, Sorokowska A, Pisanski K. Predatory journals recruit fake editor. Nature. 2017;543(7646):481-3.

Martin C, MacDonald BH. Using interpersonal communication strategies to encourage science conversations on social media. PLoS One. 2020;15(11):e0241972.


Licença Creative Commons

e-ISSN 2177-0018 / ISSN 0566-1854.

descrição da foto descrição da foto descrição da foto descrição da foto descrição da foto descrição da foto descrição da fotodescrição da foto