My supervisor (a professor and head of a research institute) is otherwise very competent, accomplished and a well respected and renowned expert in his field. Yet, he keeps on forwarding me emails with invitations to submit papers from very obviously shady predatory journals. (Spelling errors, wrongly written names, journals noone ever heard of, the works)

I feel like I am not really in a good position to tell him that, although well-intentioned, he shows poor judgement by forwarding me those links and I am kind of surprised that he is not able (or maybe just doesn't care enough) to check that these invitations are from bad journals. Being a PhD student, I feel like I would overstep by basically telling him that he should check more carefully what emails he forwards and which he shouldn't.

So is there a diplomatic way that will not hurt our - otherwise very good - relationship? Or is this in the end something that a lot of supervisors do and I should just ignore it?

  • 6
    In my opinion, the poor judgement when forwarding you those links could also just be a sign of limited media competence. I think at this point I would just ignore it unless he forces you to actually definitely partake in these predatory journals/conferences.
    – pbaer
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 15:13
  • 3
    What are you aiming to achieve here? Why do you not consider "roll your eyes and press delete" an adequate solution?
    – avid
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 15:13
  • 3
    When an opportunity presents itself I would ask them why they are forwarding these. Depending on what they say, I might mention that I checked out one of them and that it was problematic.
    – user9482
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 15:43
  • 4
    Has your supervisor ever published in a predatory outlet? Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


If you are saying he is competent, I don't think he is forwarding those links in purpose but forwarding anything he receives to his students and he assumes that you do the filtering yourself.

You didn't mention that he explicitly asks you to submit to these journals. Right? Then, I don't see any poor judgement from his side as you don't know his intention from forwarding these emails. Remember that people are coming from different schools and think differently (I personally would forward only emails that I check carefully but it does not mean that all people are like me or they are wrong when they do the opposite).

Aside from his intention, your main duty as a student is to learn not only about your field but also research/academic principles and management skills. If I were you, I would ask him if it is a good idea to submit to journal x and listen to his answer. You may also point that the journal is predatory by replying to his email, like

Hi John, I checked the journal of the call you just forwarded and it seems it is a predatory journal. Please check this link.

With this email, you are polite, diplomatic, non-offensive and interacting with his emails. Any professor would be happy with such a reply.

One thing I learned when I was PhD student is that people do not submit just for scientific reasons but also "political" (it is done by successful researchers more). There are several reasons for that such as presenting at a local conference to make new contacts which might be helpful for future projects or increasing the number of submissions in a co-organized event, etc.

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