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Nearly 20 Hindawi journals delisted from leading index amid concerns of papermill activity

Nineteen journals from the open-access publisher Hindawi were removed from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science Monday when the indexer refreshed its Master Journal List.

The delistings follow a disclosure by Wiley, which bought Hindawi in 2021, that the company suspended publishing special issues for three months because of “compromised articles.” That lost the company $9 million in revenue.

Clarivate updates its Master Journal List of titles included in Web of Science on a monthly basis. It dropped more than 50 journals from its indexes in March, according to a blog post by Nandita Quaderi, editor in chief and vice president of Web of Science, for failing to meet 24 quality criteria such as adequate peer review, appropriate citations, and content that’s relevant to the stated scope of the journal.

Delisting 50 journals at once is more than usual for Clarivate, and may be the beginning of a larger culling. Quaderi wrote that the company developed an AI tool “to help us identify outlier characteristics that indicate that a journal may no longer meet our quality criteria.” The tool flagged more than 500 journals at the beginning of this year, according to her blog post, and Web of Science’s editors continue to investigate them.

Removing a journal from Web of Science means Clarivate will no longer index its papers, count their citations, or give the title an impact factor, which can have negative effects for authors, as universities rely on such metrics to judge researchers’ work for tenure and promotion decisions. The company also suppresses journals from its yearly Journal Citation Report that publishes impact factors.

The data company has a new policy not to publish a list of journals removed from Web of Science, a Clarivate spokesperson told us. We compared the new lists of journals included in the four indices of the Web of Science Core Collection with the lists from last month to identify journals that were delisted. We identified 83 delisted titles, which a Clarivate spokesperson told us included journals removed for “not meeting production requirements.”

Hindawi confirmed to Retraction Watch that the following 19 journals were delisted from Web of Science:

  1. Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
  2. Biomed Research International
  3. Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
  4. Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience
  5. Contrast Media & Molecular Imaging
  6. Disease Markers
  7. Education Research International
  8. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  9. Journal of Environmental and Public Health
  10. Journal of Healthcare Engineering
  11. Journal of Nanomaterials
  12. Journal of Oncology
  13. Mathematical Problems in Engineering
  14. Mobile Information Systems
  15. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
  16. Scanning
  17. Scientific Programming
  18. Security and Communication Networks
  19. Wireless Communications & Mobile Computing

We’ve previously reported on issues with the content of several of the journals on the list: A special issue of Advances in Materials Science and Engineering hosted the Twitter-famous paper with capital Ts standing in for error bars, and an investigation by Hong Kong Polytechnic University found that one of its PhD students let a former professor “borrow” his email account to edit two special issues of the Journal of Environmental and Public Health and Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience.

And Hindawi and Wiley said last year that they were retracting more than 500 papers linked to peer review rings.

In an analysis of papermill activity in Hindawi journals, sleuth Dorothy Bishop looked at special issues from ten journals, nine of which were among those delisted.

“I was pleased to see that these journals have been delisted,” Bishop told us, “because their inclusion in Clarivate’s Web of Science seemed inappropriate because they were publishing many articles from paper mills, where the editorial and/or review process appeared to be compromised.”

Paper mills targeted the journals, Bishop said, “precisely because they are included in Web of Science, which gives them kudos and means that any citations count towards indicators such as H-index, which is used by many institutions in hiring and promotion.”

“I feel sorry for the honest authors who have published in these journals,” she said, “as they will find their publications tainted by association with these journals.”

Separately, the Directory of Open Access Journals recently delisted 10 Hindawi journals, all of which were also delisted from Web of Science.

“Wiley has taken important actions to address research integrity challenges impacting Hindawi’s Special Issues,” Jay Flynn, executive vice president and general manager of Wiley’s research division told us in a statement:

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.

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.

We take full responsibility for the quality of the content we publish at Wiley. We also must work together as an industry to strengthen the lines of defense against those attempting to subvert the scholarly record.


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