PubMed is one of the most widely accessible biomedical resources globally. However, there is accumulating evidence that articles published in predatory journals are being indexed in PubMed. In a report published in The Scientist, Diana Kwon investigates concerns among the research community that the presence of low-quality predatory journals on PubMed is affecting its reliability.
Two studies conducted by Professor Andrea Manca and colleagues found that over 10% of predatory journals in neuroscience, neurology and rehabilitation were listed on PubMed. According to Prof Manca, content from predatory publishers may have leaked into the PubMed database through PubMed Central (PMC), one of three citation databases that feed in to PubMed. However, research conducted by Professor Catherine Smith found a higher rate of predatory journals on other digital resources like Scopus and Google Scholar than on PubMed. Peace Ossom-Williamson agreed that the presence of predatory publishers on PubMed is not an urgent concern, based on her research published in JMLA.
Jerry Sheehan, Deputy Director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), told The Scientist that the NLM is aware of the concerns regarding the transfer of articles from predatory journals to PubMed via PMC. He explained that a legal or policy requirement means that all research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) must be included on PMC. In a bid to resolve the issue of articles from non-reputable journals entering PubMed, the NIH issued guidelines for authors and several university libraries have released tools to help researchers identify legitimate journals.
As stated by Williamson, “ultimately, it’s important for both authors and readers to be mindful of the journals they submit to or the articles that they read.”