You could use a combination of some simple rules and common sense. Among the simple rules once could list:
- Presence in major databases, e.g. Web of Science, PubMed, etc
- Does anyone in your field cite papers in this journal?
- The quality of other papers in this journal
- Do your colleagues publish in this journal?
- Do they have typos in their webpage?
And common sense could help in a variety of ways. For example, today, I got the following letter, a rather nice one, seems like someone would have written it specially to me:
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to get in touch with you
about a paper you authored entitled "Using principal component scores
reduces the effect of socially desirable responding". Firstly, thank
you for taking the time to publish this, it was an interesting read.
Have you continued working in this area? If you have any other
articles or ongoing research I would love to know more.
I am hoping to discuss with you having a short follow-up article or
perhaps a review article published in one of the next issues of the
journal I serve as an editor for, the Medical Research Archives. I
think our readers would be interested in a paper with information from
any continued research or new data since this was published. It would
be especially helpful if the article could be written for more of a
general medicine audience so that many sub specialties could gain from
it. The article would not have to be long, and any of your co-authors
or colleagues would be welcome to contribute to it. I am happy to
assist in any way I can, and there is no hard deadline.
Ok. First of all, they refer to a paper on psychometrics and ask me to publish something on the same topic in "Medical Research Archives". Makes no sense. Second, they tell me "thank you for taking time to publish this" (gracias de nada! this is my job!) and "it was interesting to read" (how on earth would you know - having not read it? and what is the point of calling it "interesting" if you have nothing specific to say about it?). At this point, it it quite clear that they have a script sending these letters, using a database with e-mails and titles of research papers. It is not written the way an actual editor of a bona fide journal would write, so I just delete the e-mail. (It was better written than most such e-mails, that is the reason why I even checked their webpage, - not that I would for a second consider sending a paper to their journal - but just for curiosity about the new tricks of predatory publishers.)