, Volume 113, Issue 3, pp 1513–1528 | Cite as

Are predatory journals undermining the credibility of science? A bibliometric analysis of citers

  • Tove Faber FrandsenEmail author


Warnings against publishing in predatory journals are plentiful and so are the suggested solutions to the problem. The existing studies all confirm that authors of articles published in potential predatory journals are typically young, inexperienced and from Asia or Africa. To what extend we can consider the problem negligible is determined by the impact they are having on the scholarly communication in terms of publications and citations. The existing literature can provide more information about the former than the latter. This paper is an analysis of potential predatory journals as well as potential poor scientific standards journals. Citations to 124 potential predatory journals and poor scientific standards journals are looked up in Scopus and the citing authors analysed in regards to geographic location, publications and citations. The results show that the characteristics of the citing author indeed resemble those of the publishing author. Implications for recommendations and future research are discussed.


Predatory journals Citing authors Citation analysis 



The author gratefully acknowledges the valuable assistance with the initial data collection by Regine Ejstrup.


  1. Anthony, M. (2015). Predatory journals. Home Healthc Now, 33(2), 65–66. doi: 10.1097/nhh.0000000000000186.Google Scholar
  2. Asadi, A., Rahbar, N., Asadi, M., Asadi, F., & Khalili Paji, K. (2016). Online-based approaches to identify real journals and publishers from hijacked ones. Science and Engineering Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s11948-015-9747-9.Google Scholar
  3. Bartholomew, R. E. (2014). Science for sale: The rise of predatory journals. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 107(10), 384–385. doi: 10.1177/0141076814548526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beall, J. (2012). Predatory publishers are corrupting open access. Nature, 489(7415), 179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beall, J. (2015a). Criteria for determining predatory open-access publishers. Scholarly openaccess. Accessed 28 May 2016.
  6. Beall, J. (2015b). Predatory journals and the breakdown of research cultures. Information Development, 31(5), 473–476. doi: 10.1177/0266666915601421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beall, J. (2016). Predatory journals: Ban predators from the scientific record. Nature, 534(7607), 326. doi: 10.1038/534326a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beninger, P. G., Beall, J., & Shumway, S. E. (2016). Debasing the currency of science: The growing menace of predatory open access journals. Journal of Shellfish Research, 35(1), 1–5. doi: 10.2983/035.035.0101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Berger, M., & Cirasella, J. (2015). Beyond Beall’s list better understanding predatory publishers. College & Research Libraries News, 76(3), 132–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Betz, C. L. (2016). Authors beware: Open access predatory journals. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 31(3), 233–234. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2016.02.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Björk, B.-C., & Solomon, D. (2013). The publishing delay in scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Journal of Informetrics, 7(4), 914–923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bornmann, L., & Mutz, R. (2015). Growth rates of modern science: A bibliometric analysis based on the number of publications and cited references. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(11), 2215–2222. doi: 10.1002/asi.23329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clark, J., & Smith, R. (2015). Firm action needed on predatory journals. Bmj-British Medical Journal, 350, 2. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. da Silva, J. A. T. (2015). A response to the editorial on predatory publishing. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 7(15), 8305–8306.Google Scholar
  15. Dadkhah, M., & Bianciardi, G. (2016). Ranking predatory journals: Solve the problem instead of removing it! Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 6(1), 1–4. doi: 10.15171/apb.2016.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dahanukar, N., & Molur, S. (2012). Scientific conduct and misconduct: Honesty is still the best policy. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 4(9), 2845–2848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Das, S., & Chatterjee, S. S. (2017). Say no to evil: Predatory journals, what we should know. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 28, 161–162. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2017.05.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Deprez, E. E., & Chen, C. (2017). Medical journals have a fake news problem. Bloomsberg Businessweek, Aug 29, available at Deprez, E. E., & Chen C. (2017). Accessed 15 sept 2017.
  19. Eriksson, S., & Helgesson, G. (2016). The false academy: Predatory publishing in science and bioethics. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 20(2), 163–170. doi: 10.1007/s11019-016-9740-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ezinwa Nwagwu, W., & Ojemeni, O. (2015). Penetration of Nigerian predatory biomedical open access journals 2007-2012: a bibiliometric study. Learned Publishing, 28(1), 23–34. doi: 10.1087/20150105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2015). Predatory journals: When outcome is valued over quality. Applied Nursing Research, 28(1), 1. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2014.12.004.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  22. Flanagan, J. (2015). Predatory publishers: Authors beware. International Journal of Nursing Knowledge, 26(1), 1. doi: 10.1111/2047-3095.12069.CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  23. Frandsen, T. F. (2017). Identifying predatory journals: Checklists and frameworks. Unpublished material.Google Scholar
  24. Gasparyan, A. Y., Yessirkepov, M., Voronov, A. A., Gerasimov, A. N., Kostyukova, E. I., & Kitas, G. D. (2015). Preserving the integrity of citations and references by all stakeholders of science communication. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 30(11), 1545–1552. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2015.30.11.1545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heneberg, P. (2013). Effects of print publication lag in dual format journals on scientometric indicators. PLoS ONE, 8(4), e59877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jalalian, M. (2015). A second chance for authors of hijacked journals to publish in legitimate journals. Electron Physician, 7(2), 1017–1018. doi: 10.14661/2015.1017-1018.Google Scholar
  27. Kmietowicz, Z. (2009). Students warned not to subscribe to journal “scam”. British Medical Journal, 338, 3. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Manca, A., Cugusi, L., Dvir, Z., & Deriu, F. (2017a). PubMed should raise the bar for journal inclusion. The Lancet, 390(10096), 734–735. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31943-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Manca, A., Martinez, G., Cugusi, L., Dragone, D., Dvir, Z., & Deriu, F. (2017b). The surge of predatory open-access in neurosciences and neurology. Neuroscience, 353, 166–173. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.04.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Manca, A., Martinez, G., Cugusi, L., Dragone, D., Mercuro, G., & Deriu, F. (2017c). Predatory open access in rehabilitation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 98(5), 1051–1056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marušić, A., Bošnjak, L., & Jerončić, A. (2011). A systematic review of research on the meaning, ethics and practices of authorship across scholarly disciplines. PLoS ONE, 6(9), e23477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Masten, Y. B., & Ashcraft, A. S. (2016). The Dark Side of Dissemination: Traditional and Open Access Versus Predatory Journals. Nursing Education Perspectives, 37(5), 275–277. doi: 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000064.Google Scholar
  33. Moher, D., & Moher, E. (2016). Stop predatory publishers now: Act collaboratively. Annals of Internal Medicine, 164(9), 616–617. doi: 10.7326/m15-3015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moher, D., Shamseer, L., Cobey, K. D., Lalu, M. M., Galipeau, J., Avey, M. T., et al. (2017). Stop this waste of people, animals and money. Nature, 549(7670), 23–25. doi: 10.1038/549023a CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moustafa, K. (2015). Fake journals: Not always valid ways to distinguish them. Science and Engineering Ethics, 21(5), 1391–1392. doi: 10.1007/s11948-014-9608-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nelson, N., & Huffman, J. (2015). Predatory journals in library databases: How much should we worry? The serials librarian, 69(2), 169–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nwagwu, W. E. (2015). Counterpoints about predatory open access and knowledge publishing in Africa. Learned Publishing, 28(2), 114–122. doi: 10.1087/20150205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nwagwu, W. E. (2016). Open access in the developing regions: Situating the altercations about predatory publishing. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science-Revue Canadienne Des Sciences De L Information Et De Bibliotheconomie, 40(1), 58–80.Google Scholar
  39. Olivarez, J. D., Bales, S., & Sare, L. (Forthcoming). Format Aside: Applying Beall’s Criteria to Assess the Predatory Nature of both OA and Non-OA Library and Information Science Journals. College & Research Libraries.Google Scholar
  40. Omary, M. B., Wallace, M. B., El-Omar, E. M., Jalan, R., & Nathanson, M. H. (2015). A multi-journal partnership to highlight joint first-authors of manuscripts. Gut, 64(2), 189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Omobowale, A. O., Akanle, O., Adeniran, A. I., & Adegboyega, K. (2014). Peripheral scholarship and the context of foreign paid publishing in Nigeria. Current Sociology, 62(5), 666–684. doi: 10.1177/0011392113508127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Oransky, D. (2017). Predatory journals: Not just a problem in developing world countries, says new Nature paper. Retraction Watch, September 6.Google Scholar
  43. Raghavan, R., Dahanukar, N., Knight, J. D. M., Bijukumar, A., Katwate, U., Krishnakumar, K., et al. (2014). Predatory journals and Indian ichthyology. Current Science, 107(5), 740–742.Google Scholar
  44. Raghavan, R., Dahanukar, N., & Molur, S. (2015). Curbing academic predators: JoTT’s policy regarding citation of publications from predatory journals. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 7(10), 7609–7611. doi: 10.11609/JoTT.o4388.7609-11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Roberts, J. (2016). Predatory journals: Think before you submit. Headache, 56(4), 618–621. doi: 10.1111/head.12818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shen, C. Y., & Bjork, B. C. (2015). ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine, 13, 15. doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tort, A. B., Targino, Z. H., & Amaral, O. B. (2012). Rising publication delays inflate journal impact factors. PLoS ONE, 7(12), e53374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Umlauf, M. G. (2016). Predatory open access journals: Avoiding profiteers, wasted effort and fraud. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 22(Suppl 1), 3–4. doi: 10.1111/ijn.12433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Van Nuland, S. E., & Rogers, K. A. (2016). Academic nightmares: Predatory publishing. Anatomical Sciences Education, 10(4), 392–394. doi: 10.1002/ase.1671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ward, S. M. (2016). The rise of predatory publishing: How to avoid being scammed. Weed Science, 64(4), 772–778. doi: 10.1614/WS-D-16-00080.1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Watkinson, A., Nicholas, D., Thornley, C., Herman, E., Jamali, H. R., Volentine, R., et al. (2016). Changes in the digital scholarly environment and issues of trust: An exploratory, qualitative analysis. Information Processing and Management, 52(3), 446–458. doi: 10.1016/j.ipm.2015.10.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Xia, J., Harmon, J. L., Connolly, K. G., Donnelly, R. M., Anderson, M. R., & Howard, H. A. (2015). Who publishes in “predatory” journals? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(7), 1406–1417. doi: 10.1002/asi.23265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Design and CommunicationUniversity of Southern DenmarkKoldingDenmark

Personalised recommendations