Evaluation of Predatory Journal Publication in Systematic Reviews in the Top Five Emergency Medicine Journals: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Predatory journals are publishers that mislead many academic scholars into publishing their work without any peer-review, allowing these unrefined studies to enter and damage the scientific archive. These groundless publications by predatory journals contain data and information that are unvalidated, yet because they are published, they are able to circulate and can be cited by other articles that may later be published by a reputable journal. Systematic reviews — the gold standard of evidence-based medicine — may create clinical practice guidelines based off of inaccurate studies or second-rate work published in predatory journals, dangering the public health. Thus, the primary objective of this study was to explore whether systematic reviews and meta-analyses within the top 5 emergency medicine journals contained predatory journal publications in their included primary studies.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional design we systematically searched PubMed for systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in the top 5 emergency medicine journals based upon h-5 indices. H-indices were obtained using Google Scholar Metrics. The first ten systematic reviews were included from the following journals, Resuscitation, The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Academic Emergency Medicine, and The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, so that a final sample size of 50 systematic reviews were obtained. A study was excluded for the following reasons: 1) the study was not a systematic review, 2) the study was not available in English, or 3) the study was not accessible. Each systematic review was independently screened by authors TN and RM, and the primary studies included in each review were extracted. These primary studies were then examined using Beall’s List of Predatory Journals to determine if they were published in a predatory journal. If a systematic review included a primary study published in a primary journal, then additional data were extracted from both the systematic review and the predatory publication using a pilot-tested Google Form. Data were extracted in masked, duplicate fashion by authors TN and RM, and disagreements were resolved by group discussion. When an agreement could not be resolved author RO was available for adjudication.

Results: Two systematic reviews included primary studies that were published by predatory journals (2/50; 4%). Both the systematic reviews were published in the journal, Resuscitation. Neither of the systematic reviews have been included in clinical practice guidelines nor have they been referenced by other articles. One of the primary studies published by a predatory journal has been cited five times, while the other has not been referenced. The predatory journals that published these primary studies are Signa Vitae and International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship.

Conclusions: We found the top emergency medicine journal, Resuscitation, to include systematic reviews containing predatory publications. Our findings reveal that predatory journals may contaminate even the most reputable medical literature in emergency medicine. This is a growing concern as it corrodes the integrity of science and may also directly influence patient care. Further research is necessary to explore the effects of predatory publications in systematic reviews.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2021
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Days 2021: Poster presentation - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Campus, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 22 Feb 202126 Feb 2021


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Days 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Emergency medicine
  • Systematic review
  • Predatory journal


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