Distinguishing articles in questionable and non-questionable journals using quantitative indicators associated with quality

Author : Dimity Stephen

This study investigates the viability of distinguishing articles in questionable journals (QJs) from those in non-QJs on the basis of quantitative indicators typically associated with quality. Subsequently, I examine what can be deduced about the quality of articles in QJs based on the differences observed.

I contrast the length of abstracts and full-texts, prevalence of spelling errors, text readability, number of references and citations, the size and internationality of the author team, the documentation of ethics and informed consent statements, and the presence erroneous decisions based on statistical errors in 1,714 articles from 31 QJs, 1,691 articles from 16 journals indexed in Web of Science (WoS), and 1,900 articles from 45 mid-tier journals, all in the field of psychology.

The results suggest that QJ articles do diverge from the disciplinary standards set by peer-reviewed journals in psychology on quantitative indicators of quality that tend to reflect the effect of peer review and editorial processes. However, mid-tier and WoS journals are also affected by potential quality concerns, such as under-reporting of ethics and informed consent processes and the presence of errors in interpreting statistics. Further research is required to develop a comprehensive understanding of the quality of articles in QJs.

Arxiv : https://arxiv.org/abs/2405.06308

Peer reviewers equally critique theory, method, and writing, with limited effect on the final content of accepted manuscripts

Author : Dimity Stephen

The primary aims of peer review are to detect flaws and deficiencies in the design and interpretation of studies, and ensure the clarity and quality of their presentation. However, it has been questioned whether peer review fulfils this function.

Studies have highlighted a stronger focus of reviewers on critiquing methodological aspects of studies and the quality of writing in biomedical sciences, with less focus on theoretical grounding. In contrast, reviewers in the social sciences appear more concerned with theoretical underpinnings.

These studies also found the effect of peer review on manuscripts’ content to be variable, but generally modest and positive. I qualitatively analysed 1430 peer reviewers’ comments for a sample of 40 social science preprint-publication pairs to identify the key foci of reviewers’ comments.

I then quantified the effect of peer review on manuscripts by examining differences between the preprint and published versions using the normalised Levenshtein distance, cosine similarity, and word count ratios for titles, abstracts, document sections and full-texts.

I also examined changes in references used between versions and linked changes to reviewers’ comments. Reviewers’ comments were nearly equally split between issues of methodology (30.7%), theory (30.0%), and writing quality (29.2%).

Titles, abstracts, and the semantic content of documents remained similar, although publications were typically longer than preprints.

Two-thirds of citations were unchanged, 20.9% were added during review and 13.1% were removed. These findings indicate reviewers equally attended to the theoretical and methodological details and communication style of manuscripts, although the effect on quantitative measures of the manuscripts was limited.

URL : Peer reviewers equally critique theory, method, and writing, with limited effect on the final content of accepted manuscripts

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-022-04357-y

From indexation policies through citation networks to normalized citation impacts: Web of Science, Scopus, and Dimensions as varying resonance chambers

Authors : Stephan Stahlschmidt, Dimity Stephen

Dimensions was introduced as an alternative bibliometric database to the well-established Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus, however all three databases have fundamental differences in coverage and content, resultant from their owners’ indexation philosophies.

In light of these differences, we explore here, using a citation network analysis and assessment of normalised citation impact of “duplicate” publications, whether the three databases offer structurally different perspectives of the bibliometric landscape or if they are essentially homogenous substitutes.

Our citation network analysis of core and exclusive 2016-2018 publications revealed a large set of core publications indexed in all three databases that are highly self-referential. In comparison, each database selected a set of exclusive publications that appeared to hold similarly low levels of relevance to the core set and to one another, with slightly more internal communication between exclusive publications in Scopus and Dimensions than WoS.

Our comparison of normalised citations for 41,848 publications indexed in all three databases found that German sectors were valuated as more impactful in Scopus and Dimensions compared to WoS, particularly for sectors with an applied research focus.

We conclude that the databases do present structurally different perspectives, although Scopus and Dimensions with their additional circle of applied research vary more from the more base research-focused WoS than they do from one another.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/2106.01695