The term "predatory publisher" is used to refer to a wide variety of issues relating to unethical publishing practices. The most common traits of predatory publishing include deception, fraud, and a lack of transparency. Predatory journals will send relentless emails requesting submissions. They do not perform adequate peer review; or, use no peer review at all. They will often list people on the editorial board who have not agreed to serve. Though predatory journals require payment to publish, authors are often not informed of this fact until after the manuscript has been accepted. It is not uncommon for predatory journals to further hold a manuscript hostage, refusing to even return it, until after the demanded sum has been paid.
In addition to the traits listed above, some literature includes traits such as deceptive marketing, scientific misconduct, and failure to adhere to publishing best practice. The current literature on predatory publishing does not always clarify which of these distinctions are considered "predatory". Furthermore, the early literature on this topic aligned terms such as "predatory" and "corrupt" with "Open Access", bringing suspicion and mistrust to the Open Access movement. It is important to understand that Open Access is not a synonym for predatory publishing. Open Access is a legitimate business model in the publishing industry.