Since the U.S. government launched a database of freely available journal articles in 2000, it has deselected roughly only 30 titles over concerns about journal quality. Fourteen of those titles were removed last August, all associated with one publisher — Kowsar.
According to a spokesperson for the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which manages the database — PubMed Central (PMC) — the decision stemmed from its review of the journals’ adherence to its policy on scientific and editorial standards:
As part of a review of information the publisher (Kowsar) provided to NLM about its organization and publishing policies, an NLM review committee requested a reevaluation of 16 Kowsar journals previously accepted for PMC to confirm that they meet PMC’s Scientific Quality Standard. NLM determined in August 2017 that 14 of the journals no longer satisfy PMC’s Scientific Quality Standard and terminated the PMC participation agreement for each journal. Two journals, Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, were found to be suitable for inclusion in PMC. NLM continues to accept deposits for both journals.
A representative for Kowsar — whose website says that its central office is located in The Netherlands — told Retraction Watch the news “was a surprise for all of us: our editors and authors.”
The Kowsar representative said the NLM provided “some scientific reasons” for the deselections, but declined to provide them, “because of the journal’s privacy.”
Kowsar publishes more than 60 journals; the representative told us:
We are trying to compensate the scientific problem mentioned by PMC and try to archive our articles in other scientific databases.
Databases occasionally deselect journals; last year, MEDLINE — the U.S. government biomedical research database — deselected the journal Oncotarget. At the time, Oncotarget reminded readers it was still indexed in PubMed and PubMed Central.
(Yes, we know the differences between MEDLINE, PubMed, and PubMed Central are confusing. For help, check out this handy guide from the National Library of Medicine, which explains that PubMed includes references from other databases besides MEDLINE, and PubMed Central is a repository for free full-text papers, such as those published by open-access journals like Oncotarget.)
According to PMC’s policy on editorial and scientific standards:
NLM’s criteria for accepting journals into PMC have evolved over the years. The most recent change happened in late 2014 when, with the unanimous approval of the PMC National Advisory Committee, NLM adapted its review process for PMC applicants to include an evaluation of the scientific and editorial quality of a journal by expert consultants. To maintain the quality of the archive, NLM performs ongoing review of current PMC journals for conformance with these standards…If the journal is found to no longer meet NLM’s standards, the PMC agreement will be terminated and the journal will be eligible to re-apply two years after the date of the termination. No additional content, including any articles submitted or published during the holding period, will be accepted for archiving in PMC.
NLM’s decision to continue or cease archiving a journal in PMC is final. NLM encourages journals to use feedback resulting from the reevaluation process to improve the overall scientific and editorial quality of the journal.
The fourteen deselected titles from PMC are:
- Archives of Trauma Research
- Asian Journal of Sports Medicine
- Hepatitis Monthly
- International Journal of Cancer Management
- International Journal of High Risk Behaviors & Addiction
- Iranian Journal of Pediatrics
- Iranian Journal of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
- Iranian Journal of Radiology
- Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal
- Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology
- Nephro-urology Monthly
- Nursing Midwifery Studies
- Research in Cardiovascular Medicine
- Trauma Monthly
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