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The impact of predatory journals

A paper recently published in the journal Scientometrics analyzed the impact of 10 marketing journals by counting how many times their articles were cited in other periodicals in the same field. But these were not 10 conventional journals: all of them have appeared on one or more lists of predatory journals—titles that publish articles for a fee without conducting a genuine peer review.

The author, Salim Moussa, a professor of marketing at the Institute of Applied Studies in Humanities at the University of Gafsa, Tunisia, found that the 1,246 articles published in these 10 predatory journals had been cited 10,935 times in total, with 11% of them receiving 13 or more citations. The paper with the greatest impact was cited 217 times, including 21 times in journals indexed in the Social Sciences Citation Index organized by Clarivate Analytics, the company behind the respected Web of Science database.

Moussa did not evaluate the content of the highly cited articles, and at the end of his paper, he suggests further investigation into the possibility that they contain “useful and genuine marketing knowledge.” He also warns, however, that the field’s academic literature could be contaminated by low-quality research. He states that articles in predatory journals have more influence in marketing than in other disciplines. Previous research has shown that predatory journals from other fields received totals of between 10 and 394 citations. For the 10 marketing journals, this figure was considerably higher, with four surpassing 732 citations.

The author suggests a series of measures to address the problem. One is to provide training on scientific publication integrity to help students and professionals in the field identify and avoid predatory journals. “More experienced marketing researchers could help the younger ones, not only in choosing a journal to publish their findings, but also by sharing their publishing experiences,” he wrote. Another recommendation is to pressure marketing schools and departments to exclude articles published in predatory journals from their appraisal and promotion processes. “How much funding has been granted to fraudulent marketing researchers who infected their résumés by publishing largely in predatory journals?” asked Moussa in the paper.