Nineteen Hindawi journals delisted by Clarivate’s Web of Science

Clarivate’s delisting of academic publications will send a message that research integrity is paramount, says campaigner

March 24, 2023
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Dozens of scientific journals – including almost 20 titles from the open access publisher Hindawi – have been delisted from the Web of Science in the biggest purge of publications from one of academia’s main guides for trusted titles.

Clarivate announced that it had cut “more than 50 journals” from its Master Journal List when the database was updated on 20 March. Analysis of the revised list later revealed that some 82 titles had been removed, of which 19 were owned by Hindawi, which was bought by US publishing giant Wiley for almost $300 million (£244 million) in 2021.

Their removal from the Web of Science comes amid growing concerns over the rapid increase in publishing volumes at some Hindawi titles via the use of special issues. One investigation alleged that scores of low-quality papers may have been written by paper mills and contained dozens of citations of papers unconnected to the topic discussed. Earlier this month, Wiley announced that it had lost $9 million after it paused Hindawi’s special issues for three months amid research integrity concerns.

The delisting will be a major blow to affected journals because they will lose their journal impact factor and could be shunned by academics because citations in journals outside Web of Science-listed titles do not count towards a scholar’s h-index, often used for hiring and promotion decisions.

Nick Wise, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge whose studies have flagged hundreds of concerns about papers in recent months, welcomed the crackdown on titles where problematic studies had appeared.

“There are many names I recognise [on the list of removed titles] as being full of paper mill nonsense and some that I have had interactions with,” said Dr Wise. “If this does spur publishers into making improvements or changes at the affected journals, then that is a good thing,” he added.

The commercial importance of ensuring that plagiarised papers or bogus citations did not appear in legitimate journals was huge for publishers, continued Dr Wise. “Other journals should be mindful that these journals collectively published tens of thousands of papers last year and that demand will now shift to journals that are still listed on the Web of Science,” he added.

Announcing the deletion of journals from Clarivate’s Web of Science, its editor-in-chief and vice-president Nandita Quaderi suggested that more delistings could soon occur thanks to a “new, internally developed AI tool” used to “identify outlier characteristics that indicate that a journal may no longer meet our quality criteria”, which had flagged more than 500 journals of potential concern at the start of the year. Investigations into these journals are believed to be ongoing.

Confirming the delisting of 19 Hindawi journals, including the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Scanning and the Journal of Oncology, Jay Flynn, executive vice-president and general manager at Wiley, said the publisher had “taken important actions to address research integrity challenges impacting Hindawi’s special issues”.

“Once we identified misconduct in the external peer review process, we immediately paused the publication of special issues, purged bad actors and implemented rigorous new checks throughout our publishing workflows. Additionally, we added expert staffing, increased editorial controls, introduced AI-based screening tools, and accelerated the retraction process to ensure the integrity of the scholarly record,” said Mr Flynn, who added that “though integrity challenges are an issue across the industry, we are confident in the value and demand for research publishing and steadfast in our commitment to research integrity as we serve researchers around the globe who deliver life-changing findings every day”.

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Reader's comments (1)

This is great news. Predatory journals are a huge problem that undermines research in all sorts of ways, so it's good to see real action being taken.