Bibliometrics Methods in Detecting Citations to Questionable Journals – ScienceDirect

Abstract:  In recent times, there has been a proliferation of questionable practices in research publishing, for example, via predatory journals, hijacked journals, plagiarism, tortured phrases and paper mills. This paper intends to analyse whether journals that had been removed from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) in 2018 due to suspected misconduct were cited within journals indexed in the Scopus database. Our analysis showed that Scopus contained over 15 thousand references to the removed journals identified. The majority of the publications citing these journals came from the area of Engineering. It is important to note that although we cannot assume that all the journals removed followed unethical practices, it is still essential that researchers are aware of the issues around citing journals that have been suspected of misconduct. We suggest that research libraries play a crucial role in training, advising and providing information to researchers about these ethical issues of publication malpractice and misconduct.


In a Tipster’s Note, a View of Science Publishing’s Achilles Heel

“Whatever the merits of the allegations surrounding Manogaran and his collaborators, ample evidence suggests a systemic problem in the publishing industry and its recent expansion into special issues. The problem affects publishers at all levels of the industry, including respected and established houses like Elsevier and Wiley. It also extends to newer players, including publishers of freely available, open-access online journals such as Frontiers, MDPI, and Hindawi, which was acquired by the publisher Wiley in 2021.

Of these, Bishop says it’s a common perception that all three publishers have made special issues an important part of their business model, but none quite as much as MDPI, which now says it’s the biggest publisher of open-access articles in the world. In 2013, the company published nearly 400 special issues; a decade later, it opened up nearly 56,000. MDPI’s revenues have also exploded from around $15 million per year in 2015 to more than $300 million in 2021, according to some estimates. The rejection rate for papers published at MDPI journals has also been decreasing, even as the time between submission and publication has shrunk — suggesting to some critics that quantity is taking precedence over quality….”

Predatory behaviour in publication ethics | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics

“We’ve recently been seeing a lot of attention to predatory publishers, especially with reference to lists of predatory journals, and ‘safe lists’ (see COPE’s Officers’ Statement on identifying fake journals). Here, we offer an overview of how this issue intersects with a number of other problems in scholarly publishing.

At COPE it is clear that predatory publishing is just one aspect of a wider network of unethical activities. The different elements of this network seek to profit from a system which dilutes the scholarly literature, either dupes authors or actively promotes their unethical behaviour, and wastes millions of pounds of research funding. These actors capitalise on the easy circulation of information across national boundaries on the internet, the pressures to publish in academia, and the growth of Open Access publishing models which can make authors more open to believe offers of rapid publication and low article processing charges (APCs)….”

Did a ‘nasty’ publishing scheme help an Indian dental school win high rankings? | Science | AAAS

Saveetha Dental College in Chennai, India, incentivizes undergraduate students to write research manuscripts, a practice resulting in over 1,400 scholarly works published by the school in a single year. However, an investigation by Retraction Watch revealed that these papers often systematically cite other works by Saveetha faculty, inflating citation metrics to boost the institution’s global reputation. Officials at the college deny knowledge of any concerted effort to use self-citation to enhance their standing, though external observers criticize the strategy as misleading and potentially harmful. Concerns also extend beyond self-citation, with critics pointing to the questionable quality of undergraduate research and the coercive nature of pressuring students to publish for the institution’s benefit.


Distortion of journal impact factors in the era of paper mills: Molecular Therapy

Abstract:  Academia’s obsession with the journal impact factor has been a subject of debate for some time. Most would probably agree that it is useful as a crude measure of a journal’s prestige, quality, and general influence on a scientific or medical field but should not be overinterpreted. Nonetheless, some institutions go as far as disregarding a student’s or faculty member’s publications in journals with impact factors less than a certain number (often the magic number is 5) when it comes to performance evaluation, promotion, graduation, or hiring. Such overemphasis ignores that one journal with a lower impact factor may actually have more rigorous standards for acceptance of a paper than another with a higher impact factor. This situation may be observed for a variety of reasons, such as the degree of specialization of a journal or the ratio of review articles vs. original research papers. Another more nefarious contributor to a journal’s impact factor, manipulated citations, is also growing and threatening to expose the deepening cracks in the foundation of academia’s favorite metric.


Paper mills research | COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics

“Recommended actions

A major education exercise is needed to ensure that Editors are aware of the problem of paper mills, and Editors/editorial staff are trained in identifying the fake papers.
Continued investment in tools and systems to pick up suspect papers as they are submitted.
Engagement with institutions and funders to review incentives for researchers to publish valid papers and not use services that will give quick but fake publication.
Investigation of protocols that can be put in place to impede paper mills from succeeding in their goals.
Review the retraction process to take account of the unique features of paper mill papers.
Investigate how to ensure retraction notices are applied to all copies of a paper such as preprint servers and article repositories….”

Is there a risk of APC-driven guest authorship?

Abstract:  While guest or honorary authorship on academic papers is a broadly and widely discussed phenomenon in biomedical research, the issue of the use – or abuse – of article processing charges (APCs) as a form of potential authorship exchange currency, i.e., the “APC ring”, is not being discussed. The APC is central to the open access (OA) movement, specifically gold OA, including hybrid subscription models. It is conceivable that poorly-funded researchers aiming to publish in ranked (e.g., with a Clarivate journal impact factor or indexed in a major database such as Scopus) OA journals with expensive APCs (sometimes costing thousands of US dollars or Euros) might turn to richer researchers to foot the bill in exchange for authorship. Despite this, extensive web and database searches revealed no published cases on APC-for-authorship schemes as a form of guest authorship, which seems inconceivable. One possible explanation is that if such unethical behavior, and a form of fraud, were to be detected by APC-charging journals, that it might not be reported as such. Alternatively, if it has been detected as such, it might be reported (e.g., to the public) more broadly as “authorship issues” without detailing that an APC-based guest authorship scheme (i.e., “APC ring”) was involved. In such a situation, APC-dependent journals would be conflicted between receiving a financial lifeline, the APC, and exposing authors that abuse the APC in exchange for authorship. How would OA publishers justify receiving APCs derived from an “APC ring”? Although this form of guest authorship is currently hypothetical, it is also highly likely, so this issue needs greater debate. If actual case studies exist, these need to be openly and publicly debated to better appreciate how widely this phenomenon may be taking place.


Saudi universities entice top scientists to switch affiliations — sometimes with cash

“Research institutions in Saudi Arabia are gaming global university rankings by encouraging top researchers to change their main affiliations, sometimes in exchange for cash, and often with little obligation to do meaningful work. That’s the conclusion of a report that shows how, over the past decade, dozens of the world’s most highly cited researchers have switched their primary affiliations to universities in the country. That, in turn, has boosted the standing of Saudi Arabian institutions in university ranking tables, which consider the citation impacts of an institution’s researchers….”

A high-quality cloned journal has duped hundreds of scholars, and has no reason to stop – Retraction Watch

“Have you heard about hijacked journals, which take over legitimate publications’ titles, ISSNs, and other metadata without their permission? We recently launched the Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker, and will be publishing regular posts like this one to tell the stories of some of those cases….”

Hindawi shuttering four journals overrun by paper mills – Retraction Watch

“Hindawi will cease publishing four journals that it identified as “heavily compromised by paper mills.” 

The open access publisher announced today in a blog post that it will continue to retract articles from the closed titles, which are Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience, the Journal of Healthcare Engineering, and the Journal of Environmental and Public Health….”

WARNING DOAJ Publications – DOAJ News Service

“There is a website lurking on the WWW from an outfit that calls itself ‘DOAJ Publications’ or ‘Doaj publisher’. They have a Twitter account too.

Please note that this company is not affiliated with us in any way nor sanctioned by us.

We have emailed the company to ask them to stop using the DOAJ name as we think it is being used to deliberately mislead people.

If you can help raise awareness by sharing this message, we’d be grateful.”

Q2O: Closing the gap between questionable and open research practices using a metacognitive tool | NWO

“Unfortunately, however, so far there’s still limited evidence on the efficacy of open research practices to minimize questionable research practices. These two related practices might involve different cognitive processes. Can we close the gap between QRP [questionable research practices] and ORP [open research practices] using metacognitive interventions, which have been shown to improve behaviour calibration in educational settings?  The main goal of our Q2O Project is to gain insights into why researchers may commit questionable research practices, and how we can decrease these practices through metacognitive reasoning, and to what extent Open Science can help reduce those questionable research practices.’ …”

Elsevier journal under fire for rejecting paper that didn’t cite enough of its old papers

“A scholarly journal run by the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier has come under scrutiny for rejecting a paper submitted for publication because, among other reasons, it didn’t cite enough of the journal’s previously published papers.

The rejection letter, from the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (IJHE), which is published by Elsevier on behalf of the International Association for Hydrogen Energy, reads: “while the subject is within the scope of the journal, there are only four citations to past papers published in IJHE out of 150 references cited.”

The letter came to light after microbiologist-turned-scientific integrity expert Elisabeth Bik posted it on Twitter on Jan. 19….”

Identity theft victims challenge Prime Scholars | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Leading international scientists who discovered articles written by artificial intelligence that have been published in their name have backed plans for legal action.

In recent months, academics at leading universities in Europe, North America and Australia have been alerted to low-quality scholarly articles – often little more than a page long, probably written by a language scraping algorithm – appearing in their name in titles published by Prime Scholars, an open access publisher registered to a west London address. …”