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      Journal citation reports and the definition of a predatory journal: The case of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)

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      Research Evaluation
      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          The extent to which predatory journals can harm scientific practice increases as the numbers of such journals expand, in so far as they undermine scientific integrity, quality, and credibility, especially if those journals leak into prestigious databases. Journal Citation Reports (JCRs), a reference for the assessment of researchers and for grant-making decisions, is used as a standard whitelist, in so far as the selectivity of a JCR-indexed journal adds a legitimacy of sorts to the articles that the journal publishes. The Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) once included on Beall’s list of potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers, had 53 journals ranked in the 2018 JCRs annual report. These journals are analysed, not only to contrast the formal criteria for the identification of predatory journals, but taking a step further, their background is also analysed with regard to self-citations and the source of those self-citations in 2018 and 2019. The results showed that the self-citation rates increased and was very much higher than those of the leading journals in the JCR category. Besides, an increasingly high rate of citations from other MDPI-journals was observed. The formal criteria together with the analysis of the citation patterns of the 53 journals under analysis all singled them out as predatory journals. Hence, specific recommendations are given to researchers, educational institutions and prestigious databases advising them to review their working relations with those sorts of journals.

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          Predatory publishers are corrupting open access.

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            Predatory journals: no definition, no defence

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              ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics

              Background A negative consequence of the rapid growth of scholarly open access publishing funded by article processing charges is the emergence of publishers and journals with highly questionable marketing and peer review practices. These so-called predatory publishers are causing unfounded negative publicity for open access publishing in general. Reports about this branch of e-business have so far mainly concentrated on exposing lacking peer review and scandals involving publishers and journals. There is a lack of comprehensive studies about several aspects of this phenomenon, including extent and regional distribution. Methods After an initial scan of all predatory publishers and journals included in the so-called Beall’s list, a sample of 613 journals was constructed using a stratified sampling method from the total of over 11,000 journals identified. Information about the subject field, country of publisher, article processing charge and article volumes published between 2010 and 2014 were manually collected from the journal websites. For a subset of journals, individual articles were sampled in order to study the country affiliation of authors and the publication delays. Results Over the studied period, predatory journals have rapidly increased their publication volumes from 53,000 in 2010 to an estimated 420,000 articles in 2014, published by around 8,000 active journals. Early on, publishers with more than 100 journals dominated the market, but since 2012 publishers in the 10–99 journal size category have captured the largest market share. The regional distribution of both the publisher’s country and authorship is highly skewed, in particular Asia and Africa contributed three quarters of authors. Authors paid an average article processing charge of 178 USD per article for articles typically published within 2 to 3 months of submission. Conclusions Despite a total number of journals and publishing volumes comparable to respectable (indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals) open access journals, the problem of predatory open access seems highly contained to just a few countries, where the academic evaluation practices strongly favor international publication, but without further quality checks.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Research Evaluation
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                0958-2029
                1471-5449
                August 11 2021
                August 11 2021
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Economics and Business Management Faculty, Business Management and Marketing Department, Univesity of Seville, Avda. Ramón y Cajal, 1, Seville 41018, Spain
                Article
                10.1093/reseval/rvab020
                497b5506-ce4d-4a08-90fb-cde5b7194e38
                © 2021

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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