Potentially Predatory Journals in Scopus: Descriptive Statistics and Country-level Dynamics [NWB'2016 presentation slides]

2016-11-23T10:00:46Z (GMT) by Tatiana Savina Ivan Sterligov
Global rise of metrics-based research assessments is leading to a surge of so-called predatory publishers. These firms and individuals are actively selling WoS\Scopus “indexing” services to authors using gold-Open access model, and are not investing in credible peer review for their journals. In order to get indexed and to attract authors they mimic respected well-established venues. In turn, authors are motivated by simple metric-based evaluations, especially those that treat all WoS\Scopus-indexed papers equally. <br><br>We present findings from an exploratory study of a key subset of such potentially predatory journals (PP-journals), namely several hundred titles that we’ve found in both Scopus’ and in Beall’s Lists.<br><br>Beall’s list as a source is problematic because of severe criticism from the library community (Berger and Cirasella, 2015), but there is no other such a collection and the list’s author himself is open to all questions about specific journals or publishers. Beall’s list is used in almost all prominent studies of possibly predatory publishing (Shen and Bjork 2015, Kozak et al 2016, Xia et al 2015). Scopus was chosen as a bibliometric source because of its superior coverage of lower-tier journals.<br><br>Using automated and manual cross-matching of Beall’s lists of publishers and standalone journals and Scopus title list, we’ve identified 665 journals, 447 of which were active by the time of data collection (May 2016). We present descriptive statistics of main journal indicators available in Scopus (SNIP, SJR, IPP) for 2014 and 2015 and compare it to the average SNIP and SJR values across the entire Scopus Title List. PP-journals rank significantly lower on the average, but there are some prominent outliers. <br><br>Interestingly, we’ve found two publishers with significantly higher average SNIP and SJR scores for their journals, one of them being Frontiers S.A (it’s authors\countries distribution is also significantly different from typical amongst PP). We also present an analysis of countries and subject categories assigned to PP-journals in Scopus. <br>Via our set of PP-journals we were able to calculate shares of publications in PP-journals to publications in all journals for a set of 77 countries using publication window 2011-2015. Our findings indicate that PP-publishing is not confined to Asia and Africa, it is widespread across the globe, with different trends across the regions. For some countries the share of PP-articles reaches 45-47% (Kazakhstan in 2013-14). <br><br>Examining yearly data for major countries shows us that while China and Iran have gradually managed to substantially reduce the share of PP-articles, it is still on the rise in India, and Russia is the aggressive latecomer. We also present a list of top 10 universities in terms of PP-article counts; half of these are in India. We then investigate the interplay between share of PP-publications and other macro-indications of R&D for a subset of countries. <br><br>We conclude with discussion on the possible causes of such rise of PP-journals and then speculate on directions of some further bibliometric studies of this phenomenon.<br><br>References<br>Berger, M., & Cirasella, J. (2015). Beyond beall's list: Better understanding predatory publishers. College and Research Libraries News, 76(3), 132-135. <br>Kozak, M., Iefremova, O., & Hartley, J. (2016). Spamming in scholarly publishing: A case study. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(8), 2009-2015. doi:10.1002/asi.23521<br>Shen, C., & Björk, B. -. (2015). 'Predatory' open access: A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine, 13(1) doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2.<br>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.<br><br>