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J Pediatr Urol. 2019 Apr;15(2):159.e1-159.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2018.08.019. Epub 2019 Feb 15.

Predatory publishing or a lack of peer review transparency?-a contemporary analysis of indexed open and non-open access articles in paediatric urology.

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Division of Paediatric Urology, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada. Electronic address:
Division of Paediatric Urology, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada.



The advent of open access publishing has allowed for unrestricted and rapid knowledge dissemination and can generate higher citation levels. However, the establishment of predatory journals exploits this model and may lead to publication of non-peer reviewed work.


The objective of this study was to compare the characteristics and trends of indexed publications in paediatric urology. The primary outcomes were to compare open access vs non-open access publishing. The secondary outcome was to assess whether any open access publications in this cohort could be classified as predatory based on journal data basing and external peer review policies.


PubMed, MEDLINE and Embase reviews were carried out for any publication using the terms 'p(a)ediatric urology' over a 5-year period (October 2012-2017). These publications were individually accessed, assessed for relevance and cross-checked using the ISI Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Report. Bibliometric data, journal type and access model were all individually assessed, ranked and compared using descriptive and non-parametric statistical methods.


From an initial total of 4075 indexed publications, 2244 journal publications across 51 countries were included based on relevance, of which 611 were open access. Open access journals were significantly more likely to publish basic science/laboratory versus clinical publications (10.9% vs 3.3%). They were more likely have higher average citations/publication (17 vs. 8), but there was no difference between open and closed journal impact factors (3.1 vs. 2.7). The overall rate of open access, indexed publications that were not peer reviewed and/or included in open access databases was 6.5% DISCUSSION: The overall numbers of paediatric urological articles appearing on PubMed between 2012 and 2017 have increased by approximately 75%, while the number of open access articles has remained relatively static (25%). Researchers may prefer to publish in specific journals to disseminate results to a particular audience or fear in the current climate that an open access journal may not be considered legitimate, and possibly even predatory, thus having a negative impact on the data and the author's reputation. The impact factor status and route/method of publication may be less important.


Open access, peer reviewed publishing allows rapid international knowledge dissemination. The exact objective definition of what constitutes a predatory journal remains controversial. We have identified a time-stable prevalence of 6.5% open access publications that could meet proposed criteria for a 'borderline/predatory journal'; however, this should not influence the decision to publish in open access journals.


Citation; Impact Factor; Open Access; Predatory; Pseudojournal; Publishing

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