Predatory Journals Indexed at Scopus

A study published in Scientometrics in February 2021 identifies hundreds of potentially predatory journals and thousands of potentially predatory articles indexed in Scopus—a widely used citation database—between 2015 and 2017. For “Predatory Publishing in Scopus: Evidence on Cross-Country Differences,” authors Martin Srholec and Vít Macháček pulled names of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory journals and publishers from Jeffrey Beall’s archived list, derived the journal ISSNs from Ulrichsweb, and searched the titles in Scopus.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Their search revealed 324 journals, responsible for 164,073 articles, from Beall’s list in the Scopus database. The publications account for roughly 2.8% of all articles indexed in Scopus from 2015-2017.

Scopus outlines quality requirements that journals must meet and maintain to be included in the database. For example, journal content must be peer-reviewed, and a description of the journal’s peer review process must be publicly available. Further, Scopus requires journals to be published on a regular basis, have an ISSN, and have a publicly available publication ethics and publication malpractice statement.

Srholec and Macháček describe the Scopus criteria as “rather formal” and reliant on journal claims, and they suggest that these criteria are not likely to catch well-disguised predatory journals. “Predatory journals manage to look like regular scientific outlets on the outside,” they state, but “their bibliometric profile might not differ that much from other fringe journals and they do not shy away from lying about their editorial practices.”

As of February 2021, Scopus has stopped indexing new content for 65% of the journals that have been flagged for re-evaluation, but the old content from these journals remains indexed. Several red flags are associated with predatory journals, including aggressive and solicitous emails, stilted language, low-quality science, deviation from best practices/lack of peer review, poor-quality graphics and misspellings, and article processing charges. Access previous blog posts with similar guidance here and here.