This study uses content-based citation analysis to move beyond the simplified classification of predatory journals. We present that, when we analyze papers not only in terms of the quantity of their citations but also the content of these citations, we are able to show the various roles played by papers published in journals accused of being predatory. To accomplish this, we analyzed the content of 9,995 citances (i.e., citation sentences) from 6,706 papers indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection, which cites papers published in so-called “predatory” (or questionable) journals. The analysis revealed that the vast majority of such citances are neutral (97.3%), and negative citations of articles published in the analyzed journals are almost completely nonexistent (0.8%). Moreover, the analysis revealed that the most frequently mentioned countries in the citances are India, Pakistan, and Iran, with mentions of Western countries being rare. This highlights a geopolitical bias and shows the usefulness of looking at such journals as mislocated centers of scholarly communication. The analyzed journals provide regional data prevalent for mainstream scholarly discussions, and the idea of predatory publishing hides geopolitical inequalities in global scholarly publishing. Our findings also contribute to the further development of content-based citation analysis.

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Handling Editor: Ludo Waltman

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