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While writing the literature review for my paper, I found another paper which is closely related to my research. Unfortunately, the paper’s publisher is on Beall’s List. Hence, I wonder if citing the paper will have any negative impact on my paper.

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Do what a researcher is supposed to do when referencing a paper: read the paper and review it. Is it worth to cite it? Then cite it. I fail to see how citing a paper in an allegedly bad journal would affect your own paper. –  dgraziotin Jun 3 at 12:12
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Beall's list tells you where not to publish your own work, not where not to go to read other papers. –  Moriarty Jun 3 at 13:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 45 down vote accepted

Do not think about the journal where the paper comes from. Just forget about it for a while.

Now, read the paper. Even better, be a reviewer for that paper. Evaluate it. Is it a good related work for you? Is it a not-so-good related work, so that you can criticize it? Does it help you to build some hypotheses, etc.? Then, just cite it. Otherwise, don't.

This is what you are supposed to do as a researcher. Build on top of other's work. Bad papers are in every kind of journal. Good papers are, as well.

Beall's list is useful up to a certain point but it has got limitations. One of which, it is a one-man's work. I do not want to criticize the list here because it does not even matter how good that list is. Be your own judge for the work you cite. Where the paper comes from is, in my opinion, the least of the issues you could ever encounter.

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The overall sentiment of the answer is dead-on. But: "Bad papers are in every kind of journal." What do you mean by that, exactly? (What is a "bad paper"? Do you mean "not as good as some other papers" or something stronger? What is a "kind of journal"? Do you mean a journal published by a specific company?) –  Pete L. Clark Jun 3 at 17:38
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Pete, I meant to be generic. Any situation could really apply there. Maybe some "predatory publishers" won't actually provide peer review of the papers, while we expect peer review in reputable journals. That might be a difference. However, nothing can really be said in the peer review quality. That depends on the reviewers, not on the journal. I have a story there: I once submitted a paper to a top IEEE trans. journal in my field. All three reviewers missed a serious error in my regression model. There are studies about bad editorial/review processes in reputable traditional journals, too. –  dgraziotin Jun 3 at 19:51

As said in the comments: Read the paper and decide on the ground of the content of the paper and not by the reputation of the journal. Don't get me wrong - I do not support predatory or fake journals in any way. But it happens frequently that "quality of the paper" and "quality of the journal" (both understood in a vague sense) do not match. Good journals sometimes publish not-so-good papers and also it may be that the authors of the journal you mention simply were not aware of the listing in Beall's list.

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Journals get listed there for various reasons, and there is off course a subjectivity factor. One of Beall's pet peeve is aggressive marketing strategy, which is indeed annoying and suspicious, but has also been frequently used by established publishing groups. Check whether there is a post that describes why this particular journal/publisher is on his list (in this case the post is outdated and does not point out major misconduct).

While the presence of a journal on Beall's list does not in itself mean that the work you read is of bad quality, a lot of the 'journals' listed there have no peer review and no editorial process whatsoever. Most of these 'journals' will publish anything.

Which means that the burden of judging quality is on the reader only, as the other answers pointed out, but also that there are frequent cases of plagiarism. Chance are that the original content has been published somewhere else before, on a preprint server, or a university website as part of a dissertation, or even in a legitimate academic journal. Therefore, if I where you, I would google chunks of the text and make sure that you cite the original version.

Now, from an ethical point of view, a majority of the journals listed by Beall have as business model to pray on the necessity for researchers to have long lists of publications to raise their chances of getting funded or awarded tenure. Citing these, in a way, encourages that sort of behavior, which I personally find harmful to science, dishonest towards funding agencies and taxpayers, and unethical.

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I respect Beall's work, I even have a published article in Scientrometrics based on his list. However, it is not super-precise work. I can provide personal evidence for this. In this comment on his 2014 list I warned him that he put a publisher on his list without clarifying the reasons. I am working good with this publisher and I reported it. He just ignored me and commented above and below me. Please be all aware that his work creates awareness, but the final judgement should be made only by the reader. –  dgraziotin Jun 3 at 13:37
    
That said, I completely respect your answer and your thoughts about predatory publishers. –  dgraziotin Jun 3 at 13:40
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@dgraziotin thanks for your comments, I edited my answer accordingly. –  Cape Code Jun 3 at 13:59
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@dgraziotin Note that there is an appeals process. However, the appeal has to come from the publisher, and it has to follow the process (not just left as a comment on the blog) –  ff524 Jun 3 at 15:07

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