Citation patterns between impact-factor and questionable journals

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Kulczycki E., Holowiecki M., TAŞKIN Z., Krawczyk F.

SCIENTOMETRICS, vol.126, no.10, pp.8541-8560, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 126 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11192-021-04121-8
  • Journal Name: SCIENTOMETRICS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, FRANCIS, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, BIOSIS, CINAHL, Computer & Applied Sciences, Index Islamicus, Information Science and Technology Abstracts, INSPEC, Library and Information Science Abstracts, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA), PAIS International, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, zbMATH
  • Page Numbers: pp.8541-8560
  • Keywords: Questionable journals, Beall's list, Cabell's list, Citation analysis, Predatory journals, PREDATORY JOURNALS
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


One of the most fundamental issues in academia today is understanding the differences between legitimate and questionable publishing. While decision-makers and managers consider journals indexed in popular citation indexes such as Web of Science or Scopus as legitimate, they use two lists of questionable journals (Beall's and Cabell's), one of which has not been updated for a few years, to identify the so-called predatory journals. The main aim of our study is to reveal the contribution of the journals accepted as legitimate by the authorities to the visibility of questionable journals. For this purpose, 65 questionable journals from social sciences and 2338 Web-of-Science-indexed journals that cited these questionable journals were examined in-depth in terms of index coverages, subject categories, impact factors and self-citation patterns. We have analysed 3234 unique cited papers from questionable journals and 5964 unique citing papers (6750 citations of cited papers) from Web of Science journals. We found that 13% of the questionable papers were cited by WoS journals and 37% of the citations were from impact-factor journals. The findings show that neither the impact factor of citing journals nor the size of cited journals is a good predictor of the number of citations to the questionable journals.