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

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Predatory journals publish research in an accelerated process that often costs researchers money and, at times, their work. The articles these journals publish have not been appropriately reviewed and can contain false or unmerited information. Other researchers could then cite these journals in their papers without realizing they are predatory publications. The inclusion of predatory publications may perpetuate misinformation and can affect medical literature harmfully; and, ultimately, patient care. Predatory journals can be particularly dangerous if cited in systematic reviews as they are the gold standard of scientific literature. Thus, our primary objective to determine the number of predatory journals included in systematic reviews published by highly reputable neurology journals.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional design we systematically searched PubMed for systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in the top 5 neurology 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: Brain, Journal of Neuroscience, Neurology, Neuroimage, and The Lancet, 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 B.S. and M.K., 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 was extracted in masked, duplicate fashion by authors B.S. and M.K., disagreements were resolved by group discussion. When an agreement could not be resolved author R.O. was available for adjudication.

Results: In total 47 systematic reviews were included in our final sample — the Journal of Neuroscience only published seven systematic reviews. Of the 47 systematic reviews no primary study was found to be published by a predatory journal (0/380, 0%).

Conclusions: Our study found systematic reviews published by the top 5 neurology journals are void of predatory publications. Future research should explore whether other neurology journals publish systematic reviews which contain primary studies published in predatory journals.
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


  • Predatory journals
  • Neurology
  • Systematic review


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