Since 2019, about 150 fake research papers have been published by more than 400 Pakistani scholars and academics from various public and private sector universities in a cloned journal named “International Journal of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity” (IJDRBC).
The term clone newspaper refers to a lower quality newspaper that copies the name of a reputable newspaper.
In the case of the IJDRBC, some authors apparently knowingly submitted their articles to the clone journal, which is apparent from the fact that a single issue of the journal increased from four to five articles produced by the same authors, which is something a reputable newspaper would never allow.
Some other scholars might have been fooled by the clone journal. However, if they were cheated, the responsibility also lies with them to some extent as they should have checked the authenticity of the journal on the Journal Recognition System (HJRS) of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (CET).
On the HJRS website, researchers can easily verify the authenticity of any journal by entering its name or the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). If there is an entry for the journal in the HJRS, the website displays details of the journal such as its name, category, publisher’s name and whether it has been indexed by two reputable global agencies, Scopus and Web of Science.
In the case of the IJDRBC clone, the name of the publisher mentioned on the HJRS site is different from the publisher mentioned on the clone journal website.
trick of deception
According to the original IJDRBC journal website, the IJDRBC was originally published by the Australia-based Science & Engineering Research Support Society (SERSC), but in January 2019 another Australian-based publisher, namely NADIA, acquired the SERSC journal.
According to the NADIA website, the editor of the IJDRBC is Snjezana Knezic from the University of Split, Croatia. The journal is currently published bi-annually online and in print. Its International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) for print is 2005-4289 and for online is 2207-6425.
However, interestingly, the journal’s former publisher, SERSC, has still not removed the IJDRBC’s name from its website. The CSRSE website still claims that the IJDRBC is its journal, which it publishes on a monthly basis. If, despite the acquisition of the IJDRBC by NADIA, the CSRSE also claims to publish it, it means that the CSRSE version of the IJDBRC is a cloned journal.
The SCHER website claims that the ISSN number for the printed version of the IJDRBC is 2005-4289. It is the same number mentioned on the NADIA website. Since the two journals are published by different publishers, they cannot have the same ISSN, which shows that the CSRSE is misleading academics by using the ISSN of a journal it once owned.
SCHER’s IJDBRC online ISSN is 2207-8363, which is different from NADIA’s 2207-6425. It seems that the CSRSE only publishes the clone newspaper online.
To find out if HEC recognizes the two journals, The News tried to check them on the HJRS site using their ISSN numbers. The HJRS has not verified the ISSN online from SCHER. Regarding the printed ISSN, the HJRS mentions that the publisher of the IJDRBC is NADIA, not the CSERS.
However, not all looks well with the HJRS database. The News found that the HJRS recognizes the NADIA-owned IJDRBC as Category Y. Interestingly, the HJRS also states that the IJDRBC is indexed by the Web of Science, which is a prestigious indexing agency. Along with Scopus, Web of Science is one of only two indexing agencies recognized by HEC.
However, The News noted that NADIA did not claim on its website that the Web of Science had indexed its journal. When checking the Web of Science website, it was found that it had not indexed the IJDRBC, which means that the information on the HJRS website was wrong. Those who made the HJRS database erred at least in making the IJDRBC entry.
In the online version of the IJDBRC clone available on the SCHER website, it was found that a number of Pakistani authors published multiple articles in a single issue of the journal. For example, Liaquat Ali Chandio of Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, both as sole author and with other authors, published a total of four articles in the December 2021 issue of the journal.
In the same issue, Professor Dr. Qamar Afaq Qureshi from Gomal University published three articles. Dr. Taseer Salahuddin, Senior Lecturer at National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Multan Campus, along with others, produced two papers.
The legal director general of the Pakistan Procurement Authority also published an article in the clone newspaper. These are just a few people who knowingly or unknowingly submitted their papers in the IJDRBC clone, as around 400 other Pakistani scholars and researchers have produced more than 150 papers in the clone journal. They belong to University of Bahria, University of Riphah, University of Peshawar, University of Sargodha, University of Punjab, Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar, International Islamic University of Islamabad, University of Swat, University of Sindh and others. Readers can find their articles at sersc.org/journals/index.php/ijdrbc.
In October 2021, The News published an article titled ‘Fraudulent research thrives in Pakistan due to HEC apathy’, in which it explained how the HEC failed to take action against fraudulent research in the country.
In response to the story, the commission sent a written response, in which it said, “HEC only approves international journals that are indexed with Scopus and Web of Science which are reputable international indexing agencies.” However, the HJRS endorsed the original IJDRBC which was not indexed by Scopus and Web of Science.
In the October 2021 article, The News also raised the issue of cloned journals, to which the HEC responded that it was investigating how two publishers could claim ownership of a journal with the same ISSN.
When The News informed HEC’s media relations department of the IJDRBC clone, the spokesperson was unable to comment and said he would forward the matter to the relevant department and that after obtaining a written response from them, he would inform The News.