Publication Forum is a classification of publication channels created by the Finnish scientific community to support the quality assessment of academic research. The classifications are updated regularly and researchers can also suggest adding new publication channels or re-assessment of already included channels. Publication channel search User guide
You can search from Publication Forum by journal or publisher. By clicking the results from the end of the page you can find information of the assessed quality of the journal (as well as assessments from other Nordic countries).
The Swiss publisher MDPI is at the moment the largest open access publisher in the world, but its policies are very controversial. The company has a large portfolio of journals of various quality - some are very respected, but most are "merely" adequate scientific journals and some of low quality which can be seen, among other things, in their classification in the Publication Forum (many MDPI journals are in class 0 which includes both predatory journals and low quality scientific journals).
MDPI has been very popular among the researchers, because the publishing process is very quick and the article processing charges moderate. On the other hand, its policy is to publish a lot of special theme issues of which the researchers have received a lot of emails, making it susceptible of being a predatory publisher. In addition, the very quick publishing process has caused a number of questionable articles accepted and published (see a study on MDPI by Paolo Crosetti). In the database Cabells, listing predatory journals, MDPI is not included, but in Publication Forum it is classified in level 0 as a publisher.
Our advice is that one should be careful with the quality of single MDPI journals although we do not consider it a predatory publisher. The classifications of Publication forum are useful in assessing the journals. University of Helsinki has an open access publishing deal with MDPI.
Frontiers is another Swiss publishing company that has created controversies. Its policies are fairly similar to MDPI although it has fewer journals. Frontiers has also published questionable articles. A lot of UH researchers publish in Frontiers journals and it is valued due to its efficiency. University of Helsinki has an open access publishing deal with Frontiers as well.
In recent years a number of commercial companies have been established which offer services for popularizing science for a fee. Peer reviewed articles are simplified and copy-edited to flashy short texts which are published in websites or special journals. For a fee the researcher gets a popularized version of one's article which can be distributed. These companies include Research Outreach, Scientia Global, Innovation News Network, Intech Open and Open Access Government. We would not recommend the latter three, but basically it is up to the researcher whether or not to use them. The library cannot support publishing with these companies. It is important to acknowledge that these publishers can be either predatory or non-predatory publishers.
Sometimes requests are also received by researchers of re-publishing their articles distributed with CC BY -license. For example, a company might ask whether the researcher would like to publish one's article in a theme-based article collection and pay a fee for that purpose. In the same way the researcher can consider whether this is useful, but the library cannot support this kind of publishing - in many cases the article fee has already been paid by the library.
A compable service to these publishing services is Researchpod which scripts scientific articles to a short form and makes them into podcasts which are broadcasted online for a fee. The service seems to be functional, but it is up to the researcher whether to accept or reject the offers emailed to them. The library has no funds to support this kind of reuse of scientific articles.
Some of these characteristics can apply to predatory journals as well and not all of these apply to even good OA-journals - for example, it takes time to achieve all these goals and many OA-journals are relatively new:
Cabells is a database which lists predatory journals, not recommended as publication channels. The service is in test use in University of Helsinki until the end of 2023. UH has a license to a list of predatory journals (predatory reports). From the search result you can see a list of suspicious features of the journal (violations) which are the reasons why the journal is added to the database. Note that Cabells has no relation to a website Predatoryreports.org. There is no guarantee that the information there is reliable.
A predatory journal/publisher is an open access journal or its publisher which tries to make money with open access publishing instead of advancing research. In these publications the article processing charge is asked, but the journals are not professionally edited scientific journals although they strive to give this impression. Sometimes the articles are not published at all after the APC is paid. There are estimated to exist over 15 000 predatory journals at the moment. The articles published in predatory journals have very little impact (see Nature 13. 1. 2021).
Sometimes predatory journals are also called vanity journals, because some researchers publish in them while knowing that the scientific quality of these journals is bad. As the peer review process is non-existent, they can avoid strict requirements concerning language and other qualities and therefore get their articles published and are able to progress in their careers.
In addition to journal articles, the predatory criminals can send email-spam of non-existent conferences, open access books etc.