The Journal of Archaeology has 71 academics on its editorial board. And a strangely generic name. What it doesn’t have is any published papers yet, after months on-line, or an editor-in-chief. So I wrote to some board members at European universities, and they replied that they thought the journal was probably legit, though they weren’t exactly sure. “The lack of published papers and low manuscript turnover has concerned me, yet they appear very professional in approach”, says one scholar, and “I personally know a good handful of the other Editors including a senior member of staff in my department. They are very well respected and knowledgeable so I would be surprised if we have all fallen for a scam, but I will look into it further”, says another.
Anyway, Dear Reader, if out of the blue you get an offer to do something with an on-line scientific journal you aren’t absolutely sure about, here’s some advice.
1. If they immediately offer you to not only contribute papers, but to also become a member of the editorial board and a peer reviewer, then it’s a scam.
2. Search the Wikipedia article about the publishers for the word “predatory”.
3. Look the publishers up on the Scholarly Open Access web site.
4. Does the journal have a named editor-in-chief? If not, then it’s a scam. If there is a named editor, google that person. If the person seems legit, email them at their departmental address and ask them to confirm that they stand by the journal.
Note that when I say “scam” here, I mean that the journals in question have no academic standing, no impact factor and no readership. They will almost certainly publish any piece you give them once you’ve paid their fee. But equally certainly, nobody will ever read or cite that piece.