A predatory journal has published my article

Published on
May 7, 2021

The Copyright Information Point (CIP) receives many interesting questions that could easily be on an exam about Dutch Copyright Law. In the current and upcoming WUR Library Newsletters, we will highlight some of these because they're too interesting to keep to ourselves. Today's question is about predatory journals.

The question

What should I do if a predatory journal has published my article?

The CIP and WUR Library Research Support Team's answer

Predatory publishers actively solicit manuscripts and charge publication fees (Article Processing Charges or APCs) without using these fees to check the manuscript's quality and legitimacy, to offer editorial support, or to provide robust peer-review. As such, predatory publishers abuse the Open Access system. Please note that most Open Access publishers are reputable.  

Each year a few WUR articles are unintentionally published in predatory journals.

In some cases, the article was unknowingly submitted to a predatory journal. Predatory journals are often hard to recognise: their websites and e-mails mimic those of legitimate publishers. Most predatory journals immediately accept a submitted manuscript. They do not do a robust peer review or offer a corresponding author form. Prior to publishing they send you an unexpected invoice, at which time you realise the paper has been published in a predatory journal but then it is too late. If you do not pay the invoice, they often still publish your article and charge a withdrawal fee. However, paying the withdrawal fee does not guarantee that your paper will be withdrawn and, moreover, you will most likely not be able to publish it in a reputable (Open Access) journal. From a legal point of view, even though you might have given permission to publish your publication, you are still allowed to withdraw your consent. Please note that WUR likely did not transfer copyright in which case the predatory journal is also infringing copyright!

In another situation, the predatory journal unlawfully copied a previously published article. In this case, a predatory journal republished an original manuscript with minor differences and without the authors's knowledge. In fact, the authors had never submitted the manuscript to the predatory journal. This is a huge violation of copyright by the predatory journal.

Please contact the CIP immediately if you have accidentally submitted your paper to a predatory journal or if your paper is republished by a predatory journal. We can advise the best way forward and refer you to the contact person for legal advice, including help with contacting the predatory publisher and legitimate publisher.

If you have any question about copyright law, please feel free to send it to Don't worry! We will only write about your question with your permission.

WUR Library has put together an extensive information sheet on ways to recognise predatory publishers/journals. You may also check the WUR blog ‘Watch out for predatory publishers!’ or contact the Open Access Support Team.