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A journal from MDPI is ranked 114 out 272 in its category according to Web of Science Journal Citation Reports. Can it still be a predatory journal? Can a predatory journal obtain an impact factor at all ?

Thanks

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Yes it can.* That's because the two things are orthogonal. The asterisk is because you need to define "predatory", and different people often have different definitions. Still, most definitions are orthogonal to what an impact factor looks at.

The impact factor is calculated by a company called Clarivate. It depends on the number of citations articles published in the journal have received in the past two years, divided by the number of citable articles published. In other words, it depends only on the number of citations received. That means all other considerations that routinely show up when discussing predatory journals, such as the APCs they charge or who they have on the editorial board, are irrelevant.

So yes, it is possible. Caveat: if you believe that the distinguishing hallmark of predatory journals is accepting articles quickly with little or no peer review or quality control, then having an impact factor practically proves the journal isn't predatory. Journals with no quality control are not likely to be indexed by Clarivate in the first place.

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  • This was also my line of thought: the papers published in the journals without proper peer-review are unlikely to be cited. Thus, such journals should not have high impact factor, if they even got one. Probably, such journals use some tricks like special issues to boost IF, but still whatever is the trick, one can pay the journal to publish this paper but there is no way make people to cite this paper. May 22, 2021 at 20:02
  • @BrainResearcher you cannot get an impact factor in the first place without proper peer review - one of the things Clarivate looks at before indexing a journal in the first place is if the journal is receiving citations from the other journals already in their database. See clarivate.com/webofsciencegroup/solutions/editorial.
    – Allure
    May 22, 2021 at 21:59
  • By the way I am not convinced that using "special issues" to boost IF is some kind of "trick". From my point of view it's perfectly legitimate.
    – Allure
    May 22, 2021 at 22:00

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