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I am facing a little bit of a conundrum. I am currently writing a research paper in a pretty niche industry field and I am going through a literature review. During this process, I have found a recently published article about a similar project, which faced some of the same hurdles my group went through.

Problem is, while I can ascertain that the content of the paper is - in fact - of acceptable quality, it was published on a journal listed in the notorious Beall's List of predatory publishers.

Checking the journal's website, there are some indicators that it might have become legit (e.g. Scopus and DOAJ indexing, no submission fees, clear editorial guidelines), but also some "stinks" that make me think twice about considering it reputable (e.g. submission via email, promise of fast review times).

Now, the question: Provided that I and my colleagues can ascertain the quality of the paper, is it acceptable/ethical to cite it, despite its (unfortunate) choice of publishing venue? Or would doing so somehow be a breach of academic integrity?

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    @Sursula Thanks, it is pretty similar to my issue! My google fu failed me, I browsed the website to find similar questions with several combinations of "predatory" and stuff before posting, and this flew directly under my radar... Dec 9 '21 at 13:48
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    it is very easy to miss a question that is differently worded. No worries.
    – Sursula
    Dec 9 '21 at 13:55
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For your purposes, the main issue should be whether the paper, itself, is correct, since you may be able to depend less on the review process finding issues. But if you can verify the paper with your own review there is no reason not to cite it.

The authors may have made an error in judgement in their choice of publisher, but the actual results are independent of that. You aren't "advertising" a journal with a citation, but recognizing prior results.

You may have no option, actually. If you depend on that paper in any way you need to cite it.

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  • Good point. We found out about this paper while we were looking for previous research on the topic that might have surfaced in the last 2 years, and it has a lot of similarities with our (independently carried out) project, so not citing it could as well qualify as academic dishonesty. Dec 9 '21 at 13:51

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