Supporting integrity of the scholarly record: Our commitment to curation and selectivity in the Web of Science

More than 50 journals already de-listed this year for failing to meet our quality selection criteria

We have the important responsibility of providing our customers with trustworthy intelligence to help them transform the world for the better. The need for high-quality data from rigorously selected sources is becoming ever more important as the scholarly record becomes increasingly polluted.

A trusted record of research is essential for the global R&D community to effectively use published research outcomes to elevate ideas that will benefit everyday life. The responsibility for protecting the integrity of the scholarly record is shared by all those involved in the creation, delivery and assessment of academic literature, and we take our part in that collective responsibility very seriously.

The quality of the content we accept into the Web of Science Core Collection™ is paramount to us. As the creator of the world’s leading publisher-independent global citation database, we remain true to our long heritage of objectivity, selectivity and collection dynamics, while adapting to changes in the research ecosystem and the scholarly publishing landscape.

Responding to changes in the publishing landscape

We apply stringent standards and use transparent selection criteria to select new journals, books and conference proceedings for coverage in the Web of Science. Only a fraction of journals pass our quality criteria (less than 15%).

Still, Web of Science coverage increases overall every year, reflecting the growth in global research output. Journals evolve their scope, reset their editorial thresholds, refresh their editorial boards and change ownership; each of these can affect a journal’s characteristics and the quality of its published content. Acceptance into the Web of Science does not guarantee permanent indexing – we periodically re-evaluate journals to ensure the content continues to meet our selection criteria. Any journal that no longer meets our quality criteria is removed from coverage.

We have always been responsive to community and customer feedback when prioritizing which journals to re-evaluate. In recent months, we have taken additional proactive steps to counter the increasing threats to the integrity of the scholarly record. We have invested in a new, internally developed AI tool to help us identify outlier characteristics that indicate that a journal may no longer meet our quality criteria.

This technology has substantially improved our ability to identify and focus our re-evaluation efforts on journals of concern. At the start of the year, more than 500 journals were flagged. Our investigations are ongoing and thus far, more than 50 of the flagged journals have failed our quality criteria and have subsequently been de-listed.

The geographical spread of the de-listed journals is wide, affecting both major commercial publishing houses and smaller or society publishers. All editorial decisions have been communicated to the publishers, who are responsible for communicating outcomes to their editorial boards, authors and readers.

Once we determine that a journal no longer meets our quality criteria, we have a responsibility to act. We will continue to identify journals of concern and de-list any journals which fail to meet our quality criteria.

Our shared responsibility in upholding research integrity

We maintain a freely accessible Master Journal List where searchable information about journal coverage is provided. This is updated on a monthly basis and should be considered the authoritative source for Web of Science coverage.

As we continue to investigate how we can provide greater transparency around what is added and removed from the Web of Science, we invite publishers to proactively engage with us to discuss the challenges and issues they face to offer transparency into their processes.

We all have a collaborative responsibility to uphold the principles of research integrity. We believe that by working together with publishers and other stakeholders, we can ensure that the integrity of the scholarly record is upheld so that research outcomes can benefit everyday life.