Hundreds of “predatory” journals indexed on the main scholarly database

Journals that charge high publication fees but offer few editorial services are considered “predatory”.Credit: Getty

Widely Used Academic Database Scopus Hosts Articles From Over 300 Potentially ‘Predatory’ Journals That Have Questionable Publishing Practices, Analysis Finds1. Together, these titles contributed to over 160,000 articles over three years, or nearly 3% of the studies indexed on Scopus during the period. Their presence on Scopus and other popular research databases raises concerns that poor-quality studies could mislead scientists and pollute the scientific literature.

“Indexing predatory articles in scientific databases has potentially serious consequences,” says Anna Severin, a sociologist who studies peer review at the University of Bern and has written about predatory journals infiltrating databases citation data.2. “Researchers could base their subsequent research on shoddy or even fabricated results and cite them in their own publications, thus disseminating more unreliable scientific data,” says Severin, who was not involved in the latest study.

Predatory journals are those that tend to publish low-quality scientific data and deviate from best editorial practices. They may use false or misleading information, or aggressive solicitation practices, and charge fees for publication work subject to little editorial review. Researchers have already found that some of these journals are indexed in popular scholarly databases such as the biomedical site PubMed3, but the magnitude of the problem is difficult to quantify.

To perform the final analysis, published in Scientometry February 71, Vít Macháček and Martin Srholec, economists based at an economic institute run by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, compared the titles indexed in Scopus with a list of potentially predatory journals that was maintained by the former librarian Jeffrey Beall until 2017. They found 324 of these questionable journals in the database; collectively, these titles published some 164,000 articles between 2015 and 2017. This represents approximately 2.8% of the total number of articles indexed in the database during this period.

Scopus, which is run by Dutch publisher Elsevier, said it has stopped indexing new content for 65% of all journals that are flagged to it for re-evaluation due to concerns about publishing practices. This means that articles from those titles are no longer added to the database – however, old content remains indexed, a spokesperson said. “Scopus is vigilant in identifying and removing journals that are, or have become, predatory,” they said. Nature. Scopus’ content selection committee regularly assesses and reviews the inclusion of journals in the database, checking whether they meet certain metric thresholds.

Inclusion of predatory journals in databases is problematic because it means they can inflate author metrics, say physiologists Andrea Manca and Franca Deriu from the University of Sassari in Italy, who worked on the study. identifying predatory journals in PubMed. This can make a difference in countries where career advancement strictly depends on these measures.

In 2017, in an effort to address the problem of predatory journals, PubMed published guidelines on the titles in which authors should publish. But keeping track of those titles is difficult, say Manca and Deriu. “Predatory journals are continually changing names and publishers, and their numbers keep growing as we speak. ”