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Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Medicine, March 2017
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#16 of 2,168)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)

Mentioned by

12 news outlets
12 blogs
1 policy source
690 tweeters
25 Facebook pages
2 Wikipedia pages
3 Google+ users
1 Redditor


91 Dimensions

Readers on

233 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison
Published in
BMC Medicine, March 2017
DOI 10.1186/s12916-017-0785-9
Pubmed ID

Larissa Shamseer, David Moher, Onyi Maduekwe, Lucy Turner, Virginia Barbour, Rebecca Burch, Jocalyn Clark, James Galipeau, Jason Roberts, Beverley J. Shea


The Internet has transformed scholarly publishing, most notably, by the introduction of open access publishing. Recently, there has been a rise of online journals characterized as 'predatory', which actively solicit manuscripts and charge publications fees without providing robust peer review and editorial services. We carried out a cross-sectional comparison of characteristics of potential predatory, legitimate open access, and legitimate subscription-based biomedical journals. On July 10, 2014, scholarly journals from each of the following groups were identified - potential predatory journals (source: Beall's List), presumed legitimate, fully open access journals (source: PubMed Central), and presumed legitimate subscription-based (including hybrid) journals (source: Abridged Index Medicus). MEDLINE journal inclusion criteria were used to screen and identify biomedical journals from within the potential predatory journals group. One hundred journals from each group were randomly selected. Journal characteristics (e.g., website integrity, look and feel, editors and staff, editorial/peer review process, instructions to authors, publication model, copyright and licensing, journal location, and contact) were collected by one assessor and verified by a second. Summary statistics were calculated. Ninety-three predatory journals, 99 open access, and 100 subscription-based journals were analyzed; exclusions were due to website unavailability. Many more predatory journals' homepages contained spelling errors (61/93, 66%) and distorted or potentially unauthorized images (59/93, 63%) compared to open access journals (6/99, 6% and 5/99, 5%, respectively) and subscription-based journals (3/100, 3% and 1/100, 1%, respectively). Thirty-one (33%) predatory journals promoted a bogus impact metric - the Index Copernicus Value - versus three (3%) open access journals and no subscription-based journals. Nearly three quarters (n = 66, 73%) of predatory journals had editors or editorial board members whose affiliation with the journal was unverified versus two (2%) open access journals and one (1%) subscription-based journal in which this was the case. Predatory journals charge a considerably smaller publication fee (median $100 USD, IQR $63-$150) than open access journals ($1865 USD, IQR $800-$2205) and subscription-based hybrid journals ($3000 USD, IQR $2500-$3000). We identified 13 evidence-based characteristics by which predatory journals may potentially be distinguished from presumed legitimate journals. These may be useful for authors who are assessing journals for possible submission or for others, such as universities evaluating candidates' publications as part of the hiring process.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 690 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 233 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 4 2%
United States 1 <1%
Portugal 1 <1%
France 1 <1%
Hong Kong 1 <1%
Puerto Rico 1 <1%
Canada 1 <1%
Unknown 223 96%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Librarian 69 30%
Researcher 35 15%
Unspecified 18 8%
Student > Ph. D. Student 18 8%
Other 18 8%
Other 75 32%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 52 22%
Social Sciences 49 21%
Unspecified 38 16%
Computer Science 16 7%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 14 6%
Other 64 27%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 621. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 03 November 2019.
All research outputs
of 13,761,777 outputs
Outputs from BMC Medicine
of 2,168 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 257,762 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BMC Medicine
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 13,761,777 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 2,168 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 35.2. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 257,762 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them