While open access has allowed more transparent access to research, it has also spawned a cottage industry of fake journals who exist for the purpose of generating revenue rather than further scholarship. There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid being fooled by a "predatory publisher."
Be exceedingly wary of unsolicited calls for proposals sent to you via email. Reputable journals and conferences don’t make cold calls.
Do not agree to submit manuscripts to, review submissions for, or join the editorial board of a journal you are not intimately familiar with. Speak to editors, other authors, and staff to determine if a journal or conference is legitimate. If questions about peer review or selection criteria, fees, business models, or organizational affiliation cannot be answered, consider the entity suspect.
Fact check any claims made by the publisher or conference organizer. If they list someone as a member of their editorial board, confirm that with the person in question. If they claim an impact factor or inclusion in a disciplinary index, independently confirm those details.
Make sure your own professional online presence is accurate and up to date. Having correct information about yourself on a departmental, institutional, or personal website is the best way to combat having your name appear on disreputable journal editorial boards or conference sites. Make it easier for others to perform the kind of due diligence described above.
Practice “herd immunity.” Talk to your colleagues about how to avoid being duped by predatory publishers, as these publishers typically trick unsuspecting academics—sometimes even respected, senior scholars—into recruiting colleagues for suspect editorial boards or soliciting their own networks for article submissions.
When in doubt about the authenticity of a journal or conference, talk to a librarian. Academic librarians are experts at finding and evaluating information. Liaison librarians in your subject area combine this knowledge with expertise in an academic discipline, which gives them even greater insight into the problem of sorting legitimate from illegitimate publication venues.
The best defense against being duped by a predatory publisher is a strong understanding of the publishing landscape in your own field. To learn more about where and how scholars in your discipline share their work, contact your librarian.
[This material was adapted from Meredith Kahn, "Sharing your scholarship while avoiding the predators: Guidelines for medical physicists interested in open access publishing," Medical Physics 41, no. 7 (July 2014), http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/107463. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.]