The list of misdemeanours that identifies an Open Access science journal as predatory and not bona fide is long. One of them is attempts on the part of the publisher and editors to manipulate the journal’s citation index, for instance by demanding that authors cite earlier work published in the same journal. If many scholars cite papers in a given journal, then that journal’s index improves — even if the citing only goes on inside the covers of the journal itself.
When I first read about this criterion I was a little embarrassed, because I do that all the time when editing Fornvännen. I don’t demand that authors cite earlier papers in our journal, but I often suggest that they should, because it’s part of my job as editor to make sure that authors acknowledge the latest relevant work in their fields. Still, ours is not a predatory operation.
To start with, few scholars in the Scandinavian humanities pay any attention to citation indices. Ours aren’t global fields of inquiry such as those covered by Nature and Science. I have no idea what Fornvännen’s citation index is and I don’t know how to find out. Our authors wouldn’t even notice if our citation index improved due to shenanigans.
Secondly, the number of journals in our fields is tiny. We’re not one of a hundred journals competing for the same papers. Thirdly, we practice green Open Access, so we don’t make any money off of authors, or at all actually. And fourthly and most importantly, Fornvännen is on its 109th year of uninterrupted publication and has no need to reinforce its brand. Within the parameters of a regionally delimited field in the humanites, for us to try to manipulate our citation index would be like Science or Nature doing it.