Bibliometrics Methods in Detecting Citations to Questionable Journals

Barbara S. Lancho Barrantes, Sally Dalton, Deirdre Andre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent times, there has been a proliferation of questionable practices in research publishing, for example, via predatory journals, hijacked journals, plagiarism, tortured phrases and paper mills. This paper intends to analyse whether journals that had been removed from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) in 2018 due to suspected misconduct were cited within journals indexed in the Scopus database. Our analysis showed that Scopus contained over 15 thousand references to the removed journals identified. The majority of the publications citing these journals came from the area of Engineering. It is important to note that although we cannot assume that all the journals removed followed unethical practices, it is still essential that researchers are aware of the issues around citing journals that have been suspected of misconduct. We suggest that research libraries play a crucial role in training, advising and providing information to researchers about these ethical issues of publication malpractice and misconduct.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102749
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Academic Librarianship
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to express our gratitude to the Elsevier’ International Center for the Study of Research (ICSR) for providing us with the raw data. We would like also to acknowledge the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) for their support with this article. This manuscript does not have any conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Citation contamination
  • Predatory journals
  • Predatory publishing
  • Questionable journals
  • Research libraries


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