By Arshad Yousafzai
In recent years, a concerning trend has emerged among Pakistani authors who unwittingly find themselves ensnared in the clutches of predatory journals. This exploitation of academic integrity has far-reaching consequences, tarnishing the reputation of genuine researchers and institutions alike. A cautionary tale unfolds as we shed light on the predicament faced by Pakistani authors who have fallen victim to these deceitful practices.
One notorious example of such a predatory journal is the Qualitative Research Journal, found at the domain https://qualitativeresearchjournal.com. Despite its striking resemblance to the well-regarded Qualitative Research Journal published by Sage Publications, this clone journal is a fraudulent entity with no affiliation to Sage and lacks the rigorous peer review standards upheld by its authentic counterpart. Regrettably, this predatory journal made its way onto the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) list of predatory journals in 2020.
In the April 2023 issue of this clone journal, volume 23, dozens of papers authored by researchers from Pakistan were published. The surge in submissions from Pakistani researchers can be attributed to the journal’s active recruitment efforts targeting authors from Pakistan. Shockingly, within just two issues published in 2023, the journal published over dozen papers authored by 55 Pakistani academics and researchers including professors, associate professors, and lecturers from prestigious institutions such as Bahauddin Zakariya University, The University of Faisalabad, Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad, Government College University Lahore, Govt Postgraduate Girls College Khrick Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir, University of Sargodha, Qurtuba University of Science and Information Technology D I Khan, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Lahore, University of Karachi, The Women University Multan, and others.
In stark contrast to this predatory clone journal, the authentic and reputable Qualitative Research Journal can be accessed at https://journals.sagepub.com/home/qrj. Published by Sage Publications, this legitimate journal boasts an impressive impact factor of 2.818 and adheres to stringent peer review processes. Indexed in major databases such as Scopus and Web of Science, this journal is a respected source of research articles, reviews, and theoretical papers on qualitative research methods. The HEC has listed this journal in the W category on its HJRS (Higher Education Commission Journal Recognition System).
Several crucial distinctions help discern the authentic journal from its predatory counterpart. Firstly, the Qualitative Research Journal is published by Sage Publications, a well-established academic publisher, while the clone journal is associated with an inexperienced publishing company. Additionally, the Qualitative Research Journal undergoes a rigorous peer review process, ensuring the publication of high-quality articles, while the clone journal lacks any semblance of peer review.
The genuine journal also boasts a commendable impact factor, further solidifying its standing as a reputable publication, unlike its predatory imposter. Moreover, the Qualitative Research Journal is indexed in reputable databases like Scopus and Web of Science, while the clone journal lacks any major indexing.
Multiple sources have provided reports indicating that the number of predatory journals currently in existence surpasses the staggering figure of 10,000. These journals, often characterized by questionable publishing practices and a lack of rigorous peer review, have gained notoriety for exploiting the academic publishing system. The existence of such a vast number of predatory journals highlights the magnitude of the problem and the need for increased awareness and scrutiny within the scholarly community.
It is imperative that the academic community, including researchers, institutions, and regulatory bodies like the HEC, work together to combat this menace. Raising awareness about predatory publishing, providing guidance on identifying legitimate journals, and fostering a culture that prioritizes quality research over predatory metrics are vital steps toward safeguarding the integrity of Pakistani research.
By exposing the pitfalls of predatory publishing, Pakistani authors can be empowered to make informed choices, ensuring their valuable contributions receive the recognition they deserve while protecting the integrity of their work and the reputation of the nation’s research community.
The author is associated with The News and covers education related issues across Pakistan. He tweets at @arshadyousafzay and can be reached at email@example.com.