Fortunately, by being proactive and mindful of potential red flags, authors can avoid publishing in hijacked journals. In fact, many of the tips we’ve previously discussed for identifying predatory journals and predatory conferences should apply here as well. In 2019, Clarivate gave some specific examples of the hallmarks of hijacked journals, highlighting just how convincing they can be.
Here are some of the red flags of a highjacked journal.
- The journal solicits manuscripts from researchers by email, typically offering quick publication.
- The journal can be a regional journal, which would be less well known to a broader readership and makes it easier for authors to miss signs on the website that it has been hijacked.
- The journal does not have a high impact factor.
- The journal’s website does not seem to be properly formatted or there are many grammatical mistakes and inconsistencies. However, more recently, wording errors can be “smoothed over” by using AI-powered language tools and so not be such an obvious red flag as it was in the past.
- The journal may not clearly show the fees required for publishing your work.
- The journal publishes articles of poor academic quality or with little or no connection to its purported field.
- The journal has multiple search results that show different URLs. See the aforementioned Clarivate article on hijacked journals for screenshots of Google search results for a journal that was hijacked, where the hijacked journal is higher in the results than the real journal.
- Peer review either does not occur or requires that only superficial changes be made before the manuscript is published, offering no real value to the authors.
On their own, any one of these may not be necessarily indicative of a hijacked journal. For example, many journals may solicit manuscripts by email, particularly reviews or submissions to special issues, and publication fees can vary widely. However, authors who find multiple red flags from the list above should take extra steps to double-check that they’re submitting to the legitimate journal.