Articles in ‘predatory’ journals receive few or no citations

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Science  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6474, pp. 129
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6474.129

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  • Low citation rates are not sufficient to conclude no harm from predatory journals
    • Jeff C Clements, Research Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    • Other Contributors:
      • Halley Froehlich, Assistant Professor, University of California Santa Barbara
      • Rémi Daigle, Aquatic Invasive Species Biologist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

    This ‘In Depth’ piece highlighted a preprint suggesting that predatory journals may be of little worry because they receive few citations (1). That such articles appear to have low citation rates is positive, and we commend the author of the In Depth piece for providing a balanced view of the findings. A neglected aspect of the piece is that predatory journals may have impacts beyond citations – a fact that the authors of the original paper recognize in their Discussion.

    One aspect missed in both the In Depth piece and original article, however, is that there are industries in which non-scientist stakeholders rely on scientific studies for decision making. For example, the continual and sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry relies on stakeholders (e.g., farmers, investors, policymakers) – outside of academia and who would not appear in citation-based metrics – reading and using scientific information. Stakeholders can search for and read scientific articles on their own (although some work directly with scientists), but may not have in-depth training to critique the science, and therefore rely on author interpretations and conclusions. Our 2018 study (2) found that Google Searches tended to yield more hits for predatory aquaculture journals than reliable journals, and that the science published in those journals was of poor quality. Furthermore, a preponderance (>75%) of authors publishing in predatory journals are affiliated with developing nations in w...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: need email filters for predatory journals
    • Alan Attie, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    The cost of sending tens of thousands of email messages is nill. But, the cost to the scientific community in wasted time deleting email is very large. It would be a great service if somebody developed plug-in filters for the major email programs (e.g. Outlook and Mail) that would automatically filter out email from predatory journals.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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