Anger in Albania

Academicus:  International Scientific Journal

Neither scientific nor international

Academicus (subtitle: International Scientific Journal) is a scholarly journal based in Albania. I recently added it to my list of questionable standalone journals, an action that has outraged the journal’s editor, Arta Musaraj.

She called me from Albania and told me my actions were criminal. She now has others calling me pressuring me to remove the journal from my list of questionable standalone journals.

Here are the reasons I added Academicus to my list:

  1. The editor, Arta Musaraj, sent me this letter asking me to add the journal to my list. (That’s how I became aware of it). On the telephone, she denied sending me the letter.
  2. There are prominent grammatical errors throughout the site.
  3. The copyediting in the articles is extremely poor, including in this suspect article supposedly written by US Ambassador Thomas Patrick Melady, one of the journal’s listed editorial board members.
  4. The “copy” function is turned off for all PDFs, making it difficult to check for plagiarism and preventing search engines from indexing the content, a disadvantage to authors, whose work is less discoverable.
  5. The site provides no information about the article processing charges.
  6. The site gives no information about its digital preservation practices.
  7. Some of the published articles contain plagiarism.
  8. The email I received from the editor contained false statements: “…  Academicus International Acientific [sic] Journal actually the most outstanding scientific journal in Balkan area and Mediterranian [sic] as well.”
  9. On its Facebook page, the journal brags “Universal Impact Factor evaluates with 1.0257 the Impact Factor for year 2012 of Academicus International Scientific Journal.” I believe that the so-called Universal Impact Factor is a bogus metric that has no value.
  10. The journal purports to be an international scientific journal, but a good proportion of the articles are about the political economy and social conditions of Albania

The following two screenshots document a case of duplicate publication in the journal. In issue number 7, Published in 2013 Academicus published the article “Attractiveness of foreign investments in Albania: A focused analysis of factors, constraints, and policy assessment” by Blerta Dragusha and Elez Osmani.

Two years earlier, in 2011, the same article was published under a different title, “Foreign Direct Investments in Albania,” by Blerta Dragusha and Aurora Pulti.  This earlier article was published in European Scientific Journal, vol. 24 (October, 2011). This is a very serious case of duplicate publication / self-plagiarism.

Academicus:  International Scientific Journal

The recycled article

The article above was published in Academicus, nr. 7, 2013

http://www.academicus.edu.al/nr7/Academicus-MMXIII-7-072-083.pdf

Academicus:  International Scientific Journal

The original article

The article above was published in European Scientific Journal, vol. 24 (October, 2011)

http://www.eujournal.org/index.php/esj/article/view/32/32

Conclusion

Editor Arta Musaraj herself has five articles published in the journal. Most of them are jingoistic and rambling discussions of Albania’s social and economic policies. Two of these lack any references at all.

I stand by my assessment of Academicus. It is a very low quality and even predatory journal that is an insult to honest scholarship.

Update: January 24, 2014

I have removed this journal from my list. The journal has improved, and I want it to be able to continue to improve without the stigma of appearing on my list.

13 Responses to Anger in Albania

  1. AlexH says:

    I’m not from Albania however i have some (not too bad, but bad) experience with Albanian scientific conferences and one journal. Academic norms and publishing culture is very different from that experienced in western countries or even in Eastern Europe. Very few scholars from the soft sciences have any connections with western collegues. International experience is mostly limited to inter-balkan cooperations and Albanian-Italian projects. I can confidently state that the majority of “soft scientists” there who get their PhD in Albania are simply not aware of current trends in OA publishing and does not know the norms of publishing or maintaining an international scientific journal. I believe it is not in their intention to be predatory. They are just doing it badly.

    The worst scenario may be that this journal is the paper mill of a little circle of researchers who desperately needs English language publications to boost their CV.

    • Nana Yaw says:

      I wonder why you think that Albanian scholars should have connections with western scholars to worth their salt. Inherent in such statement is the assumption that the best scholars are always in the west. I wonder why you didn’t say Albanian scholars should have connection with Chinese scholars who happen to come from a country currently doing better than any country in the world. No region has monopoly over the best scholars in their respective disciplines. Actually, scholars from other regions are tired of this “holier than thou attitude”. We need one another to develop global disciplines. It is this hegemonic academic relationship between North American and the rest of the world that has undermined the development any truly global discipline; current state of social science disciplines are at best useless beyond their region of production and at worst imperialistic. Let’s move beyond riding on the back of past glory to face the current world with multiple academic centres emerging. I am sorry I forgot no one wants to give up their privileged position in society; change hurts the one might lose his/her authority. Within postmodernist thought, we move from universalism (only one best way or truth) to pluraversalism (co-existence of multiple truths). Critical realistic thought describes this as naive realism.

  2. Hasseena says:

    Having no concern with Albanian, i would like to highlight that now major concern of market is to shift the trend from subscription model to OA. We know that with the free Public Knowledge Project and Stanford University’s journal software, one can now start a new journal within one hour. This free offer has minimize the costs like web development, designing and maintenance etc. Now a days many giants like Stanford are displaying the OPEN ACCESS MOVEMENT on their websites. In fact, every one should understand now that people are fed up with the monopoly and money accumulation of few hands like giant subscription based publishers. Every one should know that OA is the future of publishing market now.

    I am writing this what i found while surfing and researching on WWW.

  3. I like the fact that SOA has highlighted the anger of the journal editors’ response.

    The fact that there is an actual editor responding is one sign that the journal might be able to learn from the experience of being listed, and see that it is not difficult to improve standards.

    If the editor makes a good defence, then the overall effect may be positive publicity.

    Some of the criticisms of the journal are a little weak. It is common for small journals to aspire to being international, even if they have not made much progress in that direction. If they are smart, they can make a virtue out of being a local journal that is able to publish articles from a wider area.

    Personally, I think publishers and journal editors should take more pride in being local, or specialised, and focus their efforts on building up a genuine human support network around each journal and journal theme.

  4. Sina Oladipupo says:

    Dear Editor, I want to appreciate the regulatory and oversight function your body is carrying out. I must confess to you that since your list of Journal not recommended for Appointment and Promotion got to my University in Nigeria, It has caused a lot of panic as many of the so called reputable Open Access Journals were caught up. Just some clarification from you. (a) Can you tell me more about your body ? (b) What do these predatory journals needed to do that they did not do? (c) Can you assist us with a list of approved Open Access Journals with their e-mail addresses? (d) Can we re-direct some of our published works which appeared in these predatory Open Access Journals to any other reputable Open Access Journals? This is because there were many of us who were ignorant of the official status of these journals sent our high-quality papers to them and paid heavily for publication fees.

    Thanks as you take time to attend to my questions. Respectfully yours, Dr. Oladipupo Nigeria

    • Dear Dr. Oladipupo:

      A. I work as an academic librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, but the blog and the lists are my personal work.
      B. Publishers and journals are judged against a set of established criteria here: http://wp.me/p280Ch-g5
      C. I am sorry, I do not have a list of approved publishers/journals.
      D. In most cases, you will not be able to remove your articles from predatory journals and successfully submit them to legitimate journals. Most journals require that new submissions be new work, not previously published.

      Good luck with your future research.

      Jeffrey Beall

  5. Shamik Saha says:

    Could you please tell me how is IJAREEIE as a journal?

  6. David says:

    Thanks for a clear and cogent discussion of the predatory OA issue, here and in Science magazine. I was invited onto the Editorial Board of a new Hindawi OA publication, the Journal of Design. It didn’t smell right (“the publication costs of an article are covered in the form of Article Processing Charges, which are publication fees paid from the research budget of accepted authors.” At least they’re up front about it, I suppose). Now after a bit of Googling, I know why.

    In the Academicus case, I am very taken with the irony of the editor asking you to include the journal on your database … it seems pretty clear to me that the purpose of that mail was to be listed legitimately on a library/ research database. Their bad luck is our good fortune. It is good work that you’re doing, thank you.

  7. Manuel says:

    Dear Jeffrey,

    I just like to know your opinion about the International Academic Forum and its Conference in Japan next year.

    Many thanks,

    http://acerp.iafor.org/

  8. Nana Yaw says:

    Though the reviewer/author is right in pointing out the self-plagiarism, the presentation is not entirely true. First, the 2011 paper was an empirical paper whiles the 2013 paper was a review paper. However, the first author was the same for both papers.

    In respect of the complaints about the standard of English used, I believe the reviewer forgot that for most people outside the UK, USA, Australia, and New Zealand, English is a second language and that level of proficiency won’t be the same. To use language argument is to be engaged in what is already known among many scholars from developing nations as academic imperialism or social science imperialism, that everything must become like those in the West to be acceptable or worthwhile. This is important as globalization is nothing more than projecting one local culture to the world stage (Yankah, 2012). Openness to diversity is key here. Many academic and publishing traditions are evolving and will evolve to revolutionize the academe.

    Besides, your efforts have produced effect to the extent that authors whose papers are accepted are asked to declare that their work does not constitute any form of plagiarism.

  9. Claudia says:

    I gave a look to this journal. In each issue more than 50% of authors are international, not Albanians.
    I share the same idea with a lot of researchers that it is nonsense for an Albanian journal not to publish from Albanian authors. Regarding the self-plagiarism issue, I noticed that the first author followed the research on the same topic with other collaborators and published here with a different authors group. I learned from the web that the journal is free of charge. In this circumstances, this journal can not be a predator one.
    At the end, to be fair, an Albanian scientific journal with voluntary contribution can not be compared to a journal of Harvard or Oxford. Considering the fact that the evaluation standards are not equal, someone may appreciate something and someone not. This does not give the right to prejudice the efforts and work of the others.

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