Scopus' Official Position on Predatory Editions and Beall's List

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Recently, a Nature article focused the scientific community on the topic of predatory journals in Scopus, based on a study in Scientometrics. In this study, the author covers the issue of dishonest activities of publications, constantly referring to the topic of 2016 – "The Beall's List", which was invalidated in 2017. The mainstreaming of this issue forced the Scopus database to once again express its position on the identification of predatory publications and Beall's list.

Scopus' Official Position on Predatory Editions and Beall's List

A recent article in Nature focused on the presence of predatory journals in Scopus based on a study in Scientometrics describing analysis of a report from 2017, using “Beall’s List” to define predatory journals. This list, which was compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall, has not been maintained since 2017. We were aware of it and took action at the time. As part of our journal re-evaluation program, the board re-evaluated all the Beall’s List journals in Scopus and discontinued those they determined to be predatory.

Of course, we welcome any research that sheds light on predatory journals. At the same time, determining whether a journal is predatory is a complex process that requires a detailed review based on various considerations. There is no universally agreed upon definition of a predatory journal or publisher. And to complicate matters, a journal can become predatory over time. 

Prof Jörg-Rüdiger Sack, Chair of CSAB

Back in 2017, Scopus revised all the journals on the Beall's list and stopped indexing those publications that were deemed "predatory". The database supports research that helps identify predatory journals, but finding such journals is a complex process. It requires a detailed examination of the journal's activities based on various criteria, excluding the assumption that Jeffrey Beall resorted to upon creating his list.

It is surprising that the topic of the Beall's list, which was closed back in 2017, remains relevant to some scientists and committees at universities, who urge to use it when selecting a publication. This leads to the fact that an authoritative resource, like Elsevier, must explain to the scientific community who is responsible for the quality of publications, and how the professional review of journals is carried out, which are indexed in Scopus.

How does Scopus keep track of its content and expose the work of predatory journals?

The platform team prioritises expert curation and constant monitoring of content. The database contains over 7,000 publishers, which requires in-depth analysis of all these journals. Scopus is assisted in this approach by the Content Selection and Advisory Board (CSAB), which includes experts who identify predatory and substandard publications. For this, they use strict criteria for selecting titles. The reviewers continually re-evaluate the journals to make sure they meet the requirements.

Professor Jörg-Rüdiger Sack, Chairman of the CSAB, noted that for them the support and integrity of Scopus is of the utmost importance, and that unscrupulous publications threaten the integrity of science and undermine trust.

How does CSAB decide that a publication is “predatory”? 

There are official Scopus criteria that help identify predatory journal behaviour. It is important to take them into account upon analysing and re-evaluating. Unfortunately, predatory publishers are adapting to the measures taken, so the Advisory Board is constantly developing and improving their detection strategy.

In 2017, during a major review of the journals, which included the Beall's list review, Scopus stopped indexing 65% of them. Such termination means that the content of the journal, which is already in the database, remains, but new articles cease to be included.

Every year (no less than 3 times a year), the Scopus database verifies the journals, which contributes to the removal of a certain number of journals. The first 2021 removal took place in February. You can examine the list by following this link.

Scientific Publications constantly monitors the Scopus database and its content to help scientists publish their scientific results in high-quality world-class publications. If you have any questions related to the scientific publication process, please contact us via chat online or any other form of communication on the website. We will gladly help you implement your scientific tasks.

As a reminder, we have recently released an article "Start of scientometrics webinars. How to publish in journals that are indexed in Scopus and Web of Science".

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