This study explored changes in the journal publishing market by publisher and access type using the major journals that publish about 95% of Journal Citation Reports (JCR) articles.
From JCR 2016, 2018, and 2020, a unique journal list by publisher was created in Excel and used to analyze the compound annual growth rate by pivot tables. In total, 10,953 major JCR journals were analyzed, focusing on publisher type, open access (OA) status, and mega journals (publishing over 1,000 articles per year).
Among the 19 publishers that published over 10,000 articles per year, in JCR 2020, six large publishers published 59.6% of the articles and 13 publishers 22.5%. The other publishers published 17.9%. Large and OA publishers increased their article share through leading mega journals, but the remaining publishers showed the opposite tendency. In JCR 2020, mega journals had a 26.5% article share and an excellent distribution in terms of the Journal Impact Factor quartile. Despite the high growth (22.6%) and share (26.0%) of OA articles, the natural growth of non-OA articles (7.3%) and total articles (10.7%) caused a rise in journal subscription fees. Articles, citations, the impact factor, and the immediacy index all increased gradually, and the compound annual growth rate of the average immediacy index was almost double than that of the average impact factor in JCR 2020.
The influence of OA publishers has grown under the dominance of large publishers, and mega journals may substantially change the journal market. Journal stakeholders should pay attention to these changes.
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