Is Scopus Polluting Its Own Database by Indexing Junk articles? A Case Study of Five Journals

Author : Jackie Earle Haley

The aim of this short research note is to demonstrate that Scopus is polluting its own databases, unintentionally or otherwise, by indexing junk articles. I have used five journals indexed by Scopus in this research note as examples in a case study format.

I have found that the publication rate of junk articles for these five journals increased after they began to be indexed in Scopus. These journals are publishing conference papers and graduate students’ initial research reports in which there are many errors.

This makes the indexing of The Journal of Social Sciences Research (Online ISSN: 2411-9458/Print ISSN: 2413-6670) questionable as it was considered for evaluation before its current two year publication history.

The quality of its published articles is very poor, and it has advertised and promoted false figures for its impact factors. These journals publish articles that are out of their scope and publish every article on condition of payment of a fee by the author that averages out to about 400 USD per article.

Given that these journals have been advertising and promoting fake impact factors prior to their being indexed in Scopus and given that Scopus has included them in its central index, they are deceiving young researchers and the broader academic community with false information.

Beall (2016) has previously pointed out the issue of the falsified impact factor information in his list of predatory journals. Many universities subscribe to Scopus to, among other reasons, measure the impact of their faculty members’ research.

There is therefore a need to address the ethics of this situation, and this study recommends that Scopus carefully index new journals but observe the publication rates of junk articles, and if an indexed journal makes such an error, to take a decision within three months and impose a lifetime ban on indexing the journal.


Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories

Authors : Gregory S. Patience, Federico Galli, Paul A. Patience, Daria C. Boffito

Authorship is the currency of an academic career for which the number of papers researchers publish demonstrates creativity, productivity, and impact. To discourage coercive authorship practices and inflated publication records, journals require authors to affirm and detail their intellectual contributions but this strategy has been unsuccessful as authorship lists continue to grow.

Here, we surveyed close to 6000 of the top cited authors in all science categories with a list of 25 research activities that we adapted from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) authorship guidelines.

Responses varied widely from individuals in the same discipline, same level of experience, and same geographic region. Most researchers agreed with the NIH criteria and grant authorship to individuals who draft the manuscript, analyze and interpret data, and propose ideas.

However, thousands of the researchers also value supervision and contributing comments to the manuscript, whereas the NIH recommends discounting these activities when attributing authorship.

People value the minutiae of research beyond writing and data reduction: researchers in the humanities value it less than those in pure and applied sciences; individuals from Far East Asia and Middle East and Northern Africa value these activities more than anglophones and northern Europeans.

While developing national and international collaborations, researchers must recognize differences in peoples values while assigning authorship.

URL : Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories


Quality of reports of investigations of research integrity by academic institutions

Authors : Andrew Grey, Mark Bolland, Greg Gamble, Alison Avenell


Academic institutions play important roles in protecting and preserving research integrity. Concerns have been expressed about the objectivity, adequacy and transparency of institutional investigations of potentially compromised research integrity.

We assessed the reports provided to us of investigations by three academic institutions of a large body of overlapping research with potentially compromised integrity.


In 2017, we raised concerns with four academic institutions about the integrity of > 200 publications co-authored by an overlapping set of researchers. Each institution initiated an investigation.

By November 2018, three had reported to us the results of their investigations, but only one report was publicly available. Two investigators independently assessed each available report using a published 26-item checklist designed to determine the quality and adequacy of institutional investigations of research integrity. Each assessor recorded additional comments ad hoc.


Concerns raised with the institutions were overlapping, wide-ranging and included those which were both general and publication-specific. The number of potentially affected publications at individual institutions ranged from 34 to 200.

The duration of investigation by the three institutions which provided reports was 8–17 months. These investigations covered 14%, 15% and 77%, respectively, of potentially affected publications.

Between-assessor agreement using the quality checklist was 0.68, 0.72 and 0.65 for each report. Only 4/78 individual checklist items were addressed adequately: a further 14 could not be assessed.

Each report was graded inadequate overall. Reports failed to address publication-specific concerns and focussed more strongly on determining research misconduct than evaluating the integrity of publications.


Our analyses identify important deficiencies in the quality and reporting of institutional investigation of concerns about the integrity of a large body of research reported by an overlapping set of researchers.

They reinforce disquiet about the ability of institutions to rigorously and objectively oversee integrity of research conducted by their own employees.

URL : Quality of reports of investigations of research integrity by academic institutions


Peer Review Bias: A Critical Review

Authors : Samir Haffar, Fateh Bazerbachi, M. Hassan Murad

Various types of bias and confounding have been described in the biomedical literature that can affect a study before, during, or after the intervention has been delivered.

The peer review process can also introduce bias. A compelling ethical and moral rationale necessitates improving the peer review process. A double-blind peer review system is supported on equipoise and fair-play principles.

Triple- and quadruple-blind systems have also been described but are not commonly used. The open peer review system introduces “Skin in the Game” heuristic principles for both authors and reviewers and has a small favorable effect on the quality of published reports.

In this exposition, we present, on the basis of a comprehensive literature search of PubMed from its inception until October 20, 2017, various possible mechanisms by which the peer review process can distort research results, and we discuss the evidence supporting different strategies that may mitigate this bias.

It is time to improve the quality, transparency, and accountability of the peer review system.


Is open access affordable? Why current models do not work and why we need internet‐era transformation of scholarly communications

Author : Toby Green

Progress to open access (OA) has stalled, with perhaps 20% of new papers ‘born‐free’, and half of all versions of record pay‐walled; why? In this paper, I review the last 12 months: librarians showing muscle in negotiations, publishers’ Read and Publish deals, and funders determined to force change with initiatives like Plan S. I conclude that these efforts will not work.

For example, flipping to supply‐side business models, such as article processing charges, simply flips the pay‐wall to a ‘play‐wall’ to the disadvantage of authors without financial support.

I argue that the focus on OA makes us miss the bigger problem: today’s scholarly communications is unaffordable with today’s budgets. OA is not the problem, the publishing process is the problem.

To solve it, I propose using the principles of digital transformation to reinvent publishing as a two‐step process where articles are published first as preprints, and then, journal editors invite authors to submit only papers that ‘succeed’ to peer review.

This would reduce costs significantly, opening a sustainable pathway for scholarly publishing and OA. The catalyst for this change is for the reputation economy to accept preprints as it does articles in minor journals today.


Open Access Escape Room: the key to OA engagement?

Author: Katrine Sundsbø

Open access (OA) has had, and will continue to have, a significant effect on the scholarly publishing landscape in academia, yet many academic staff publish OA in order to comply with policies, rather than engaging with the value of open scholarship and in debates that ultimately affect them.

Training sessions and workshops are often arranged to increase knowledge and awareness in the academic community, but engagement is often low. On the other hand, some academic staff, who already do engage, will happily attend sessions and workshops to increase their knowledge even further.

The struggle to increase OA engagement overall could be due to the training not being appealing enough, and academics not being aware of benefits until after they have attended workshops.

At the University of Essex, we took a bold, brave and curious approach to increasing engagement during Open Access Week 2018, and created an OA-themed escape room.

This resulted in great engagement from students, academic staff and professional services staff, some of whom reported that they never knew how relevant OA was for them. The Open Access Escape Room was a success, and provided a positive environment for conversations around OA.

URL : Open Access Escape Room: the key to OA engagement?


When a Repository Is Not Enough: Redesigning a Digital Ecosystem to Serve Scholarly Communication

Authors : Robin R. Sewell, Sarah Potvin, Pauline Melgoza, James Silas Creel, Jeremy T. Huff, Gregory T. Bailey, John Bondurant, Sean Buckner, Anton R. duPlessis, Lisa Furubotten, Julie A. Mosbo Ballestro, Ian W. Muise, Brian J. Wright


Our library’s digital asset management system (DAMS) was no longer meeting digital asset management requirements or expanding scholarly communication needs.

We formed a multiunit task force (TF) to (1) survey and identify existing and emerging institutional needs; (2) research available DAMS (open source and proprietary) and assess their potential fit; and (3) deploy software locally for in-depth testing and evaluation.


We winnowed a field of 25 potential DAMS down to 5 for deployment and evaluation. The process included selection and identification of test collections and the creation of a multipart task based rubric based on library and campus needs assessments.

Time constraints and DAMS deployment limitations prompted a move toward a new evaluation iteration: a shorter criteria-based rubric.


We discovered that no single DAMS was “just right,” nor was any single DAMS a static product. Changing and expanding scholarly communication and digital needs could only be met by the more flexible approach offered by a multicomponent digital asset management ecosystem (DAME), described in this study.

We encountered obstacles related to testing complex, rapidly evolving software available in a range of configurations and flavors (including tiers of vendor-hosted functionality) and time and capacity constraints curtailed in-depth testing.

While we anticipate long-term benefits from “going further together” by including university-wide representation in the task force, there were trade-offs in distributing responsibilities and diffusing priorities.


Shifts in scholarly communication at multiple levels—institutional, regional, consortial, national, and international—have already necessitated continual review and adjustment of our digital systems.

URL : When a Repository Is Not Enough: Redesigning a Digital Ecosystem to Serve Scholarly Communication