Note: This is a guest post by a professor from an Iranian University.
Before the Islamic Revolution in Iran, some Iranian universities were almost as good as some outstanding universities (e.g., MIT, UCLA, etc.). When the Islamists overtook power in 1979, almost all of the fine Iranian university professors fled Iran for fear of their lives. The universities were closed for a couple of years. Before they re-opened, a team of hard-liner Islamists headed by Professor Abdolkarim Soroosh formed a ‘refinery’ group which came to be known as the “Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution” whose job was to make sure no secular professors would remain employed in Iranian universities. Non-academic criteria (such as wearing the Islamic Chador, having a beard, saying prayers, participating in pro-regime political shows, etc.) were adopted as the criteria for employment, and the job vacancies were filled with so-called virtuous instructors/professors some of whom had fake diplomas (e.g., Ali Kordan).
A few years later, a new cancerous university with hundreds of branches even in far-off villages of Iran came into existence which was called Islamic Azad University; it may be amusing for non-Iranians to know that there is joke among Iranians which says, ‘If someone asks you to say a phrase which includes three BIG lies, just answer “Islamic Azad University”.’ The standards of academic quality were compromised even more, and Iranian universities began to race down the list of top universities of the world. Plagiarism, self plagiarism, fake books and papers, pseudo science, and the like began to grow like a cancerous tumor. All of a sudden, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology as well as the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education noticed that Iranian university Professors were no longer able to publish in scholarly journals—they were not university material any more.
The people in charge in the two ministries agreed to do a survey whose purpose was to find the possible causes of this undesirable situation; a pathology/etiology study was performed, but the final report was quite amusing. The people in charge had concluded that universal prestige academic journals were sinisterly not willing to publish works from Iran simply because such journals belonged to Zionists who had decided to practice academic apartheid against Iranians—a justification which is very much in line with what Freud called projection. Everything in this country is explained that simply. There is always a western demon behind whatever goes wrong in this country. The whole world has just one thing to do; to plot against us.
Now that the cause was known, a remedy was in order. This gave birth to the Islamic World Science Citation Index (known as ISC). The ISC was launched as a rival to ISI, JCR, ERIC, etc. Now that we have our own ISC, assistant professors publish in predatory journals and get promoted to the rank of associate professor in no time; by the same token, associate professors become full professors. University rankings, too, have been drastically affected. After all, ISC indexes many predatory journals. Just see the list for yourselves: http://mjl.isc.gov.ir/Searchresult.aspx?Cond=0. The very fact that ISC has recently added an ‘Excluded Journals from ISC’ link (http://mjl.isc.gov.ir/ExcludedJournals.aspx) on its website testifies to the fact that ISC had indexed them on shaky grounds in the first place; now you can guess the rest of the story. The rest for me now is silence.