Q: If a journal asks for "a society membership fee" after submission, is it a predatory journal?
Recently one of my friends submitted an article to a journal with "No fee" mark is vivid on the journal website (Medknow published). There was no text available about any fees related to article processing or any other fees on the journal website. However, after submission, the editor sent an email stating that if the author wants to proceed further, he should assure that, after acceptance, he has to take an annual membership (INR 5000) of the society which publishes the journal. Obviously, we do not have any question about the credibility of the journal. But, as there was no mention about this fee on the website of the journal, and the author was informed after submission, will this behavior be considered as predatory?
The most critical element in deciding whether this can be considered predatory behavior would be to understand whether there was some way for the author to have previously known about the charge and requirement for buying an annual membership. Could you check if the website mentions "For members only" somewhere. If that is the case, it would be understandable why the author was asked to pay the membership fee. However, if there was no indication whatsoever that paying this fee was a precondition to publication, and if this information was withheld until after the review process, then this is no less predatory than the other more commonly known devices that dubious journals use.