Journal Hijackers Target Science And Open Access

Staff Writer | Research Information | August 11, 2014

Hijacking of journal websites is a worrying side product of scholarly communication’s move online and a topic that Iran-based journalist and researcher Mehrdad Jalalian is particularly concerned about. We asked him about the problem and how researchers and others can address the issue

How do hijacked journals occur?

Academic researchers need to publish the results of their research in scientific journals to be able to graduate or to advance their careers. The first systematic misconduct and deviation from the generally-accepted good practices for publishing scientific journals began in the early 2000s when some commercial journals began to misuse the open-access movement by publishing unreviewed manuscripts in a ‘pay and get published’ model.

Following this, around two years ago, a new line of misconduct in scientific publishing emerged in the world of academic publishing: hijacked journals. In this phenomenon, cyber criminals create counterfeit websites for legitimate journals, broadcast call-for-paper spams, and attack the reputation and scientific life of the researchers by publishing their unreviewed articles on fake journal websites and stealing their money.

What problems do they cause?

The huge problems caused by hijacked journals are not limited to stealing authors’ money. I have received many emails from authors who have published their work with fake websites. More than talking about their payments to cybercriminals, they share their anxiety and psychological stresses as they feel their academic reputations are ruined and they lose their motivation for their scientific research...