Authors : Anna Severin, Michaela Strinzel, Matthias Egger, Marc Domingo, Tiago Barros
While the characteristics of scholars who publish in predatory journals are relatively well-understood, nothing is known about the scholars who review for these journals.
We aimed to answer the following questions: Can we observe patterns of reviewer characteristics for scholars who review for predatory journals and for legitimate journals? Second, how are reviews for potentially predatory journals distributed globally?
We matched random samples of 1,000 predatory journals and 1,000 legitimate journals of the Cabells Scholarly Analytics’ journal lists with the Publons database of review reports, using the Jaro-Winkler string metric.
For reviewers of matched reviews, we descriptively analysed meta-data on reviewing and publishing behaviour.
We matched 183,743 unique Publons reviews that were claimed by 19,598 reviewers. 6,077 reviews were conducted for 1160 unique predatory journals (3.31% of all reviews). 177,666 were claimed for 6,403 legitimate journals (96.69% of all reviews).
The vast majority of scholars either never or only occasionally submitted reviews for predatory journals to Publons (89.96% and 7.55% of all reviewers, respectively). Smaller numbers of scholars claimed reviews predominantly or exclusively for predatory journals (0.26% and 0.35% of all reviewers, respectively).
The two latter groups of scholars are of younger academic age and have fewer publications and fewer reviews than the first two groups of scholars.Developing regions feature larger shares of reviews for predatory reviews than developed regions.
The characteristics of scholars who review for potentially predatory journals resemble those of authors who publish their work in these outlets. In order to combat potentially predatory journals, stakeholders will need to adopt a holistic approach that takes into account the entire research workflow.