Predatory publications in evidence syntheses

Amanda Ross-White, Christina M. Godfrey, Kimberley A. Sears, Rosemary Wilson


Objectives: The number of predatory journals is increasing in the scholarly communication realm. These journals use questionable business practices, minimal or no peer review, or limited editorial oversight and, thus, publish articles below a minimally accepted standard of quality. These publications have the potential to alter the results of knowledge syntheses. The objective of this study was to determine the degree to which articles published by a major predatory publisher in the health and biomedical sciences are cited in systematic reviews.

Methods: The authors downloaded citations of articles published by a known predatory publisher. Using forward reference searching in Google Scholar, we examined whether these publications were cited in systematic reviews.

Results: The selected predatory publisher published 459 journals in the health and biomedical sciences. Sixty-two of these journal titles had published a total of 120 articles that were cited by at least 1 systematic review, with a total of 157 systematic reviews citing an article from 1 of these predatory journals.

Discussion: Systematic review authors should be vigilant for predatory journals that can appear to be legitimate. To reduce the risk of including articles from predatory journals in knowledge syntheses, systematic reviewers should use a checklist to ensure a measure of quality control for included papers and be aware that Google Scholar and PubMed do not provide the same level of quality control as other bibliographic databases.


Periodicals as Topic; Review Literature as Topic; Publishing; Bibliometrics

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