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News Feature: Cloned Journals

Updated: Aug 15

April 11, 2023, #35

A cloned journal is one that has taken over a legitimate journal’s “titles, ISSNs, and other metadata without their permission”¹. A hijacked journal typically looks like the original journal (even the website can be mimicked), but there the similarity stops. In the Retraction Watch blog, Anna Abalkina gives the example of the Hong Kong Journal of Social Sciences. “The hijackers’ website mimicked the genuine journal well. The archive of past issues included papers from the genuine journal. Additionally, the clone journal falsely claimed that it was indexed in Scopus and Web of Science and adhered to the ethical principles set by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Although the papers were published online in English, the title and abstract of each paper were translated into Chinese to make the hijacked journal appear authentic.”¹

The original real journal discovered what happened and tried to inform readers on the University’s website, as quoted in the Blog: “We have been alerted that some English websites have collected payments from authors for publications on the pretext of our Journal’s English and Chinese titles, … The Journal solemnly clarifies that we are an academic journal [that] only publishes papers written in Chinese, and do not charge … authors. If in doubt, please contact us at”¹. The “genuine journal, according to the information on one Chinese website, ceased publishing in 2022.”¹ “Evidence from other cases also suggests that hijackers are particularly interested in cloning journals that have stopped publishing.”¹

We do not know how many journals have been hijacked, and there is no simple way to discover whether a hijacking has taken place. Nonetheless, significant policy shifts can be a signal, such as a move from cost-free publication to for-cost publication. One way of monitoring the problem is to follow the “recently launched [...] Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker”¹ which promises to publish “regular posts”¹: 185 journals are already listed.

These News Features have been highlighting a number of ways in which unsuspecting authors can be scammed. It is especially important for early career scholars and doctoral students to be aware of the risks.


1: Abalkina, Anna, ‘A High-Quality Cloned Journal Has Duped Hundreds of Scholars, and Has No Reason to Stop’, Retraction Watch (blog), 4 April 2023,

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