The authors of a paper taking a major database to task for including papers from allegedly predatory journals are objecting to the retraction of the article, which followed a request by one of the publishers mentioned in the analysis.
A great deal of money can be made by questionable publishers. But only if they have not been publicly identified as being questionable. It is a significant concern that a publisher has been able to influence the retraction of a paper that identified them as being questionable. There will of course be situations where a publisher has been misidentified as being questionable, but the rationale for the retraction of the paper needs to be disclosed and the reasoning of the journal explained.
The paper, “Predatory publishing in Scopus: evidence on cross-country differences,” was published in Scientometrics, a Springer Nature journal, on February 7. It used Jeffrey Beall’s now-defunct list of allegedly predatory publishers to identify relevant journals. The next day, the study’s findings were the subject of a news story in Nature.
On May 6, Fred Fenter, chief executive editor of Frontiers, a publisher which figured in the analysis, sent Scientometrics editor Wolfgang Glänzel a letter, obtained by Retraction Watch, demanding that the paper be retracted immediately. Much of the letter is a critique of Beall’s list, which has certainly come under fire before. Fenter — whose criticisms of of the list prompted an investigation by Beall’s university, after which Beall eventually retired — writes:
This “data source” is biased, unreliable, unvalidated, and unavailable – and thoroughly unsound for a scientific article. For these, and additional reasons below, this article must be immediately retracted.