(This post is based on a presentation given at the 6th annual World Conference on Research Integrity, in Hong Kong, June 2019.)
My objective with this small research project was to get an idea of whether (and, if so, to what extent) articles published in predatory journals are being cited in the legitimate scientific literature.
To that end, I identified seven journals that had revealed their predatory nature when they were exposed by one of four different “sting” operations, each of which had clearly demonstrated that the journal in question will (despite its public claims of peer-reviewed rigor) either publish nonsense in return for payment of article-processing charges, or take on as an editor someone with no qualifications.
I then searched for citations to articles published in these journals in three large aggregators of scientific papers:
- The Web of Science, a massive index of scholarly journals, books, and proceedings that claims to index over 90 million documents
- The ScienceDirect database of journals and books published by Elsevier, which claims to include over 15 million publications
- PLOS ONE, an open-access megajournal that has published roughly 200,000 articles in its history