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In this article we discuss the five yearly screenings for publications in questionable journals which have been carried out in the context of the performance-based research funding model in Flanders, Belgium. The Flemish funding model expanded from 2010 onwards, with a comprehensive bibliographic database for research output in the social sciences and humanities. Along with an overview of the procedures followed during the screenings for articles in questionable journals submitted for inclusion in this database, we present a bibliographic analysis of the publications identified. First, we show how the yearly number of publications in questionable journals has evolved over the period 2003-2016. Second, we present a disciplinary classification of the identified journals. In the third part of the results section, three authorship characteristics are discussed: multi-authorship, the seniority-or experience level-of authors in general and of the first author in particular, and the relation of the disciplinary scope of the journal (cognitive classification) with the departmental affiliation of the authors (organizational classification). Our results regarding yearly rates of publications in questionable journals indicate that awareness of the risks of questionable journals does not lead to a turn away from open access in general. The number of publications in open access journals rises every year, while the number of publications in questionable journals decreases from 2012 onwards. We find further that both early career and more senior researchers publish in questionable journals. We show that the average proportion of senior authors contributing to publications in questionable journals is somewhat higher than that for publications in open access journals. In addition, this paper yields insight into the extent to which publications in questionable journals pose a threat to the public and political legitimacy of a performance-based research funding system of a western European region. We include concrete suggestions for those tasked with maintaining bibliographic databases and screening for publications in questionable journals.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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Work consisting of reports by the United States Office of Research Integrity, identifying questionable research published in articles or books. Notification of the questionable data is carried in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.
A designation for publications of research resulting from extramural research funded by the National Institutes of Health.
A designation for publications of research resulting from intramural research at the National Institutes of Health.
The means of interchanging or transmitting and receiving information. Historically the media were written: books, journals, newspapers, and other publications; in the modern age the media include, in addition, radio, television, computers, and information networks.
System through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. It includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs. (from Association of College & Research Libraries, “Principles and Strategies for the Reform of Scholarly Communication 1,” 2003)