Predatory journals - Double-check impact factor claims! ¶
By: Andy Nobes on Sept. 25, 2018, 4:23 p.m.
We just had a webinar on ethics in research publication. One of the issues that was mentioned was identifying predatory journals that advertise an 'Impact Factor', and how you can check this. We recently published a blog post about this recently that also included useful links you can use to double-check these claims:
Does the journal say it’s listed in prestigious indexes? Does it claim to have an Impact Factor? Be wary – ‘predatory’ journals usually lie about their indexing status, using fake logos and fake impact factors. The good news is that you can easily check this information yourself!
Does the journal really have an Impact Factor? You can check that this is true by searching for the journal on the Clarivate Web of Science database: http://mjl.clarivate.com/. If the journal is not listed, then it does not have a real Impact Factor, and the ‘impact factor’ being advertised is probably fake or irrelevant. (Please note that many legitimate journals are not indexed in the Web of Science, and Impact Factor is a limited metric that measures citations and not necessarily quality of research – for more information see the Wikipedia page on Impact Factors and how to target a suitable journal).
Does your journal claim to be indexed on Scopus (another reputable index owned by Elsevier)? You can check to see if it is listed here: http://www.scimagojr.com/journalsearch.php. You can also find lots of other interesting metrics on the journal, if it is listed.
Lots of medical journals claim to be indexed in PubMed. You can check the database here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/.
Lots of journals are catalogued in PubMed, but not all have passed the quality criteria for indexation, so make sure the information page clearly says "In: PubMed" or "In: Index medicus" or "In: MEDLINE". The best journals will probably have all three (MEDLINE uses the most stringent indexing criteria). Journals that have not been officially catalogued will show as: "Collection Status: Not in the NLM Collection".
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides a listing of Open Access journals that have passed its basic entry criteria: https://doaj.org/search. This is a good database to find legitimate Open Access journals from all over the world, many of which do not charge a publishing fee (see here for more information on article processing fees).
Please note that just because journals are not included in any of the above indexes does not mean they are ‘predatory’ or not credible. It can be a major challenge and take many years for new and small journals to be accepted by these indexes. The big problem is journals that deceptively claim to be indexed even though they are not.