Pakistani teachers, research fraud and incompetence HEC

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Logo of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Online predatory and cloned research journals are increasingly used by university teachers, but it is the Higher Education Commission (HEC) that has so far failed to curb this contrary practice. ethics.

These journals offer the online publication of substandard research articles and allow some Pakistani teachers to commit academic fraud after paying a few hundred dollars online, The news reported.

Teachers get promotions and other benefits based on their substandard research articles published in these journals, but HEC and other relevant educational institutions and authorities have yet to take action against these journals. on the Internet.

According to the publication’s report, it is not very difficult to take action as the relevant authorities can use the findings of global research watchdogs who have already identified many fake, predatory and clone journals and research articles. written by Pakistani academics.

Some examples are Beall’s List, a website that maintains a list of potentially predatory journals, Retraction Watch Database, another website that maintains a record of retracted research articles (which are articles deleted by a journal after publication due to subsequent discovery of some malpractice or otherwise) and impact research indexing agencies like Scopus and Web of Science.

Due to the apparent apathy of HEC and other authorities towards predatory and clone journals, many honest academics are also tricked into citing articles published in clone journals, which are of inferior quality and use the name of newspapers notorious for misleading, the publication reported, explaining that a significant number of faculty members from prestigious Pakistani educational institutes have also published their articles in clone journals after being misled by their name.

Some faculty members, however, appear to have deliberately committed academic fraud in reputable journals and once their professional misconduct was discovered their articles were retracted.

A classic story

About three years ago, one of these alleged frauds was investigated by Professor Abdul Rauf Shakoori, editor of the Pakistan Journal of Zoology (PJZ), against Dr Ghulam Abbas, a member of the faculty of the University of Karachi (KU), who together with other faculty members and foreign researchers had written seven papers on various topics related to zoology and marine sciences.

The co-authors worked in various educational institutes in Pakistan and abroad, including Okara University, Lahore University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Sindh Agricultural University, University from Genoa in Italy, the University of Sindh and others. At the end of the investigation, the PZJ withdrew Dr Abbas’ papers.

The online database Retraction Watch indicates that Dr Abbas and others were involved in the bogus peer review of at least seven articles.

Three years have passed, but no disciplinary action has yet been taken against the researchers.

In addition to Dr Shakoori, three other commissions of inquiry subsequently concluded that Dr Abbas had created fake e-mail addresses of renowned foreign experts in the relevant field to examine his articles himself, which the editor-in-chief of PZJ had sent him for a blind examination.

How was the fraud revealed?

The academic fraud was discovered after a research paper was submitted to the PJZ by an academic from Sindh University, according to the publication. Deeming Dr Abbas to be a foreign arbitrator due to his fake email id, the editor sent this document to him for blind peer review.

Dr Abbas handed the document to his student, Abdul Malik, for review. Malik sent it to one of his friends at Sindh University, not knowing that the original article was written by his friend.

The Sindh University scholar discovered that somehow he had received his own article for review. While informing PZJ editor-in-chief, Dr Shakoori, the latter launched an investigation to discover that Dr Abbas had created several fake e-mail addresses of foreign academics.

The editor of PZJ discovered that he had sent seven articles submitted by Dr Abbas to these fake IDs for review. At the end of the investigation, the editor-in-chief of PZJ banned Dr Abbas for life and also imposed a 10-year ban on his co-authors.

What does Dr Abbas have to say?

When The news Asked Dr Abbas about the retraction of his seven articles, he said if the articles had not been properly reviewed the editor could have reread them.

“I do not regret the retraction of these articles on the grounds of false peer review. The papers are not plagiarized but the editor of PZJ withdrew my papers after an investigation of a complaint [by an] unknown [person]he said, adding that it had been about three years since then and the case had been settled. “I was not the only author, but other corresponding authors also contributed to these articles,” he said.

More cases

More than three dozen faculty members from various public and private universities have been implicated in malpractice,The news reported, citing the database of retracted articles.

Reasons for withdrawal include false reviews, duplicates and other embezzlement. Anyone interested in finding such documents and the reasons for their withdrawal can access www.retractiondatabase.org.

Clone logs

HEC claims that the development of the HEC Journal Recognition System (HJRS) has reduced the chances of publication of true research articles in clone journals. Ironically, however, the commission itself recognized some cloned journals in the HJRS.

For example, a research journal called Multicultural Education has been recognized by HEC and many academics have published their articles there. However, it appears to be a clone journal as its website contact number is Australian, while the original Multicultural Education with International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) 1068-3844 journal is published by Caddo Gap Press, United States.

Another such example is from an online journal called Psychology and Education, which was published about two years ago under the title Psychology. However, archives.org which maintains the record of more than six billion Internet pages reveals that the original journal of Psychology and Education has only been published since 1964 in print format.

It is obvious that Psychology has adopted the name of an old and prestigious journal, and its website does not mention the names of academics on its editorial board.

The answer to the question of whether HEC closely monitors such clone journals appears to be negative. Despite the publication’s repeated attempts to get HEC’s version on its clone journals approval, no commission official has responded.

A public relations manager at HEC, however, said he would respond after two weeks if he received questions about the clone logs by email. The News emailed him these questions, but no response was received when this story was filed after more than two weeks.

The HEC also recently recognized the Journal of History and Social Sciences of the University of Karachi in its Y category, although it has been established with facts that the journal was discontinued in 2013 and then mysteriously relaunched in 2019 with a large number of backdated numbers.

False newspaper factories

The story of bogus and predatory newspapers in Pakistan does not end there. Beall’s List, which monitors predatory journals and publishers, has identified two groups of potential predatory publishers from Pakistan.

One of them is the Pakistan Science Mission (PSM) and the other is Pak Insight. The two websites published approximately 60 journals and HJRS did not include any in any recognized journal category.

However, no action has been taken against these websites which damage Pakistan’s reputation in the world by publishing predatory journals.


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