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News Feature: Academic Identity Theft

May 2, 2023, #38

Ellie Kincaid wrote an article called Frankly Abusive: More Questions about the Journal That Stole an Author’s Identity¹ in the Retraction Watch blog on 26 April 2023. Previously she told “the story of a professor who found her name on an article she didn’t write, which also seemed to have been plagiarized.”¹ The journal was the African Journal of Political Science. Recently she learned that “Jephias Mapuva, a professor at the Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe, who is listed as the editor in chief of the journal... is not associated with the journal in any way.”¹ He has “asked for his name to be removed from the website.”¹ In effect, his identity was stolen as well. The publisher, International Scholars Journals, was on Jeffrey Beall's list of putatively predatory journals Another apparently legitimate journal by the same name is edited by “Siphamandla Zondi, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa”¹. This journal is not affiliated with the publisher of the other journal, International Scholars Journals.¹ It “is an open-access journal that does not charge article processing fees, and is an outlet of the African Association of Political Science… The journal seems to have restarted publishing last year, after halting in 2004”¹ In contrast “the International Scholars Journals publication has put out issues continuously since 2007.”¹ In other words, the journals are clearly different. Further stories about the African Journal of Political Science have emerged. Chung-Chuan Lo described the experience of another scholar who responded to the journal’s request for a comment, after which the journal began to harass her to pay 1000€ for the comment, and threatened to charge her a “withdrawal” fee.¹ It is often hard even for experienced scholars to know whether a journal is legitimate, especially when the name is stolen from a publication that was once legitimate. Beal’s list was a source until a lawsuit forced Jeffrey Beall to take it down. At present scholars facing pressure to publish must rely on their own resources to discover whether a journal is legitimate, and often they have too little time and too few resources for a thorough investigation.

 

1: Kincaid, Ellie, ‘“Frankly Abusive”: More Questions about the Journal That Stole an Author’s Identity’, Retraction Watch (blog), 26 April 2023, https://retractionwatch.com/2023/04/26/frankly-abusive-more-questions-about-the-journal-that-stole-an-authors-identity/.

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