Respected Swiss Journal Hijacked by Unknown Criminals

Archives des Sciences

The impostor.

Archives des sciences is a reputable journal that has been hijacked online. There are two websites for the journal, a real one and an impostor one that is run by criminals.

The real journal is published by the Société de Physique et d’Histoire Naturelle (SPHN).

The authentic journal website is located here: http://www.unige.ch/sphn/Publications/Archives.html

The impostor journal website is located here: http://www.archiveofscience.com/

If you search the journal by title on Google, unfortunately the impostor site is the first to appear. Until recently, the authentic journal had little online presence. The impostor site has hijacked the authentic journal’s ISSN and impact factor. It uses what appears to be a correct street address, but because it conducts most transactions online, the physical address is unimportant.

The authentic one.

The authentic one.

This hijacking of a respected scholarly journal is an affront to scholarly communication. The authentic journal is now warning people (in French and English)  about the fraud. The English version says,

The website http://archiveofscience.com (or http://www.archiveofscience.com/, or also http://sciencesarchive.com or http://www.sciencesarchive.com; changing with time) IS NOT the official website of the journal Archives des Sciences published by the SPHN.

This website criminally usurps the identity of the official journal, using fraudulent means (false editorial board, false addresses, false publication requirements, etc.) in order to encourage scientists to publish articles through finalcial [sic] contribution.

The SPHN is not liable for any offense undergone by potential authors who would have submitted and published scientific articles via the website mentioned above.

The SPHN did not know about this issue until a few weeks after I wrote about it in early September of this year. Later, the offending website was blocked from the Internet in Switzerland, leading the society to falsely conclude the problem had disappeared. Meanwhile, some legal action taken in the U.S. has forced the impostors to include text on their website stating that they are not part of the real journal, yet the bogus website continues to steal the original journal’s identity.

If anybody knows how to shut down a corrupt website, please take or recommend action on this as soon as possible.

10 Responses to Respected Swiss Journal Hijacked by Unknown Criminals

  1. bencomp says:

    The impostor website has a “typo” in the URL in the notification about that URL not being the official website of the journal. Hadn’t I been warned before looking at the site, I would have been confused by that statement (assuming I had seen it; it isn’t that clear).

    I’m by no means qualified to give reliable judicial advice, but I’d say:
    A court may probably order the host to take down the website for trademark infringement and support of criminal activities. The host appears to be iPage/Fastdomain:
    Registrar: FastDomain Inc.
    Provider Name….: iPage Inc.
    Provider Whois…: whois.fastdomain.com
    Provider Homepage: http://www.ipage.com/
    Domain Name: ARCHIVEOFSCIENCE.COM
    Created on…………..: 2012-09-02 05:50:22 GMT
    Expires on…………..: 2013-09-02 05:50:22 GMT
    Last modified on……..: 2012-09-02 06:09:19 GMT
    Registrant Info: (FAST-15019563)

    Or in this case, one could claim that the notice is invisible, incomplete and incorrect (due to the typos). I’d say the owners are not complying with the court order, showing their malicious intentions.

  2. Robin Hood says:

    Bencomp, some great refreshing alternative solutions. Good background work. How would a site like http://www.plantstress.com, who openly infringes upon the copyrights of main publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, OUP, and others, be considered to be any less criminal? How is a site such as this, who has imposed its own notion of “open access”, by basically stealing copyrighted PDFs, allowed to operate freely while we seek justice against publishers such as this fake Archives des Sciences? Is there a two-tier justice system already in place as I argue above? Why is it that the mainstream publishers do not close down such a web-site but prefer rather to chase scientists with an iron hand of legal threats for posting copyrighted PDF files on personal websites for the purpose of academics to see and appreciate? Your insight would be welcomed.

    • bencomp says:

      Well, my “research” was incomplete:
      archiveofscience.com was registered through ipage.com, but http://sciencesarchive.com/ redirects to it (and was registered through enom.com) and the domain mentioned in the notice on the fake journal homepage gives access to a different website in the same design (and the domain was registered at tucows.com).
      Not sure why you’re asking me, but I guess offering someone else’s things is a different kind of activity than pretending that you are that someone else. Have you tried notifying the copyright holders of the infringement?

  3. Nils says:

    As far as the real location of the impostors is concerned, the paper template in the submission guide might be a giveaway.

    One thing that strikes me about predatory OA publishers is that none of them seems to offer LaTeX style files. I don’t know any mathematician who would have his work published in as ugly a format as MS word.

  4. dianabuja says:

    There is also the current case of the site of quite a good egyptological open access journal that has been stolen – but apparently for political reasons in Egypt! –

    http://www.kv64.info/2012/12/update-regarding-egyptological.html

    “Egyptological will be unavailable for the forseeable future. It has been targeted by a professional hacking group as part of an onslaught on Egypt-related web sites during the current unrest in Egypt.Although we have been in negotiations with the hackers, which seemed to be going well, they have now announced their intention of resuming hostilities against us. They apparently see Egyptology sites such as ours as representing a form of political threat.Until we have been able to assess the level of damage inflicted upon our backup solution, and have been able to devise a new strategy for the future security of Egyptological, our site will remain unavailable…

  5. As an avid promotor of online privacy and the protection of websites against censorship, but also a young researcher, this thing really makes it difficult for me to choose sides.

    On the one side, the very idea that an arbitrary website can simply be deleted is one that invokes strong emotions for me. Such censorship is almost unthinkable in our current climate of internet freedom. The selective removal of websites by governments (or corporations) is an extremely controversial topic that touches on the very esssence of constitutions in many countries.

    On the other hand, this type of abuse (as well as worse cases, such as websites serving malware) is unacceptable. If I can’t trust the web to serve me legitimate pages, how can I get any research done? Where will I find information? One potential good approach is for us researchers to simply take note of the publisher websites and bookmark them. However, this still exposes the public to a variety of pseudo-scientific material.

    In conclusion I would say that awareness (through blogs such as yours and other sources of information) is the key towards avoiding these journals. Limited legal action should be possible by forcing hosters to remove such malicious websites: however, I fear that the legal process required is too long to guarantee that we will not see similar problems in the future.

  6. Jace Harker says:

    ICANN has policies which allow a trademark holder to challenge the ownership of a domain name, if that domain name is confusingly similar to the trademark and is being used in bad faith.

    In this instance, it seems to me that SPHN has a pretty good case to make against the imposters.

    More information on the domain dispute procedure can be found here:

    http://www.icann.org/en/help/dndr

  7. Master Author says:

    The owner of this journal also has several other journal which stealed name of other journal with invalid ISSNs:
    Because using Whois, we noticed these journal was hosted with same webservers.http://www.ic.sciencerecord.com/ and http://archivesofscience.com/ archive des science recently is down!
    The first critrial for checking a journal is validity of ISSN, then, checking the title which has been copied or not and then your check list!

  8. Peter says:

    Some researchers including my students sent some works to this journal because of the long publishing years and impact factor shown in the website. However, they did not show full paper but abstract. I tried to write to Thompson with no success. We could not resent this work to other journal because of the abstract already shown online. Would appreciate if there are suggestions of what to do with it.

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