Bogus “Center” Provides Quick, Easy, and Cheap Publishing

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Quick, easy, and cheap scholarly publishing.

The Mediterranean Center of Social and Educational Research is a very popular open-access publisher of three broad-scoped and popular journals:

  • Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
  • Journal of Educational and Social Research
  • Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
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They’ll publish just about anything.

The journals have all been awarded “impact factors” by a service called Global Impact Factor, a metric I have identified as bogus on my list of misleading metrics.

This publisher has helped many researchers get promotions, tenure, and Ph.D. graduation. If you are a scholar needing to meet a quota of published articles for tenure, promotion, or to earn a Ph.D. (required for graduation in some countries), the three MCSER journals are perfect for you. The journals offer a quick, easy — and cheap — acceptance of submitted manuscripts, and that’s why the journals are popular.

Also, some requirements specify that the publications must be in journals with impact factors, and many universities are unaware of the bogus impact factor companies, or they choose to pretend they’re real.

The article processing charges for the three journals are relatively low. You can publish a single paper for $200 or two for $280. If you want the volume discount, you must publish two papers in the same issue of the journal, according to the payment instructions. So this publisher is like an article publishing wholesaler, offering to publish multiple articles for authors at a discount.

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Volume discounts for scholarly authors.

Indeed, it’s not hard to find cases of a single author with multiple publications in a single issue. One example is Darjel Sina. In Volume 4, Number 6 (2013) Special Issue-July 2013 of the MCSER journal Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, Dr. Sina is listed as a co-author on no fewer than six articles! This is a single issue of a single journal!  The articles are:

  1. Albania’s Integration in EU / Darjel Sina, Arjan Vasjari
  2. Legal Innovations to the Strasbourg Court and the Decision Qama versus Albania / Darjel Sina, Arjan Vasjari
  3. The Right and Justice between What is Right and What is Useful / Arjan Vasjari, Darjel Sina
  4. The Right of the Children to Know Their Origin in Adopting and Medically Assisted Reproduction / Juelda Lamçe, Enarda Çuni, D. Sina
  5. Family Reunification in Albania: A Comparative Study in the Context of Albanian Integration in the EU / Erjona Canaj, Arjan Vasjari, Darjel Sina
  6. Free Movement of Albanian Goods within the European Union: New Challenges in the Context of Integration / Erjona Canaj, Arjan Vasjari, Darjel Sina

Note that this special issue of the journal contains, by my count, 78 articles. The regular issues also have lots of articles. When relatively new journals such as these quickly have single issues with dozens of articles and “special issues” with dozens more, it’s clear that there is something bad happening. In this case, researchers are using the quick, easy, and cheap publishing MCSER offers to get their quota of published articles in “impact factor journals” for tenure and promotion. It’s a breakdown of the academic system.

Academic promotions in many places are no longer based on merit. Instead, they are based on the ability to create articles that look like scholarly articles and to publish these articles in scholarly vanity presses like MCSER. This is pseudo-academia.

Although this publisher gives an address in Rome as its location, and although it might really have a presence there, the publisher is basically an Albanian operation. In fact, in the instructions the publisher gives for wiring the article processing fees, two bank accounts are given. One is a personal bank account in the name of Sokol Pacukaj:

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You can send your article processing fees to a personal bank account …

The second one is a bank account belonging to MCSER itself, but it’s for a bank in Albania:

MCSER 5

… or you can send them to this bank in Albania.

This publisher is on my list. On February 20, 2014, I got an email from the publisher (Sokol Pacukaj) telling me that the operation was being purchased by the German publisher De Gruyter, so I removed it from the list, wanting to allow a fresh start. I was duped. I added the publisher back to my list after several months, upon confirming with De Gruyter that there were no plans to buy the publisher.

Publishers like this one are doing great harm to academia and to science. I realize that several prestigious indexing services include MCSER’s journals, but I think they are making a big error. I strongly recommend against submitting papers to MCSER journals.

30 Responses to Bogus “Center” Provides Quick, Easy, and Cheap Publishing

  1. Yurii says:

    In addition some text pieces appears in multiple papers with different authors.
    For example, if you take first three sentences from Link1 (Albania’s Integration in EU / Darjel Sina, Arjan Vasjari) and google it another paper from the Center appears as the second hit. (Valbona Sanxhaktari. The Respect for Fundamental in EU as an Eligibility for the Candidate Countries: The Albania Case). The first 7 lines from the first article also appears in the second article in the section 3, the 5th paragraph. I am sure that more “in-depth” comparison will reveal other instances of plagiarism.

  2. Dee says:

    This is the first one of your articles that I’ve read that focused on what these journals are doing as far as promoting professors, etc. I would like to add my 2 rupees, if you don’t mind.

    Where you say,

    “In this case, researchers are using the quick, easy, and cheap publishing MCSER offers to get their quota of published articles in “impact factor journals” for tenure and promotion. It’s a breakdown of the academic system.
    Academic promotions in many places are no longer based on merit.”

    the implication of a break down is that a program of merit existed.

    I would describe it differently. It seems to me that, in places where these are flourishing (and you know my experience is India), academia has never really existed in its modern form in the past. (Yes, there were foreign run systems and, yes, their “breakdown” affects the rest of us, but I’m talking about their system internally that allows these practices to flourish.) The attempt in these regions has been to build such a system quickly without proper understanding or resources. It is almost as if such publishers have seen the system from the outside but do not understand its foundations.

    One good example is the idea that

    “many universities are unaware of the bogus impact factor companies, or they choose to pretend they’re real.”

    The alternative is that they do not understand what an impact factor is to begin with. In my experience, this alternative is common.

    I have presented, for example, in a well-reputed university in front of hundreds of young academics who knew absolutely that they needed an impact factor but were completely surprised to learn what such a number would actually measure.

    I will say this again. You bringing these journals to international attention is the best way to help, not only individual scholars as you do, but, ultimately, the journals and universities, as they are forced to recognize that academic publishing is not something they can continue to do only with their own standards in the isolation of their own systems.

    Always a fan,
    Dee

    • I observe that your comments are always self-referential, and you always talk about how you are helping save the ignorant from themselves, you the hero and teacher. The fact is, the people in South Asia can and do understand the impact factor just as well as people in any other region. There are numerous journals published in India that are not on my lists and that publish excellent science and that adhere to international standards. Let’s replace the paternalism with high expectations.

      • Charles says:

        Dear Beall,

        While I agree with your view on Dee’s language, I think it’s wrong to suggest that a proper understanding of how academia works or should work is prevalent or the norm in South Asia. I have worked with African and Asian researchers in the past who have given me good reason to doubt their understanding of what the scientific process entails. Unlike western institutions, most universities in the developing world do not provide substantive training in good academic practice, and I am confident that a lot of researchers in developing countries don’t really understand what impact factors represent.

        NB: I am from Nigeria, and I currently conduct research in a British institution.

  3. herr doktor bimler says:

    Family Reunification in Albania: A Comparative Study in the Context of Albanian Integration in the EU / Erjona Canaj, Arjan Vasjari, Darjel Sina

    The first author of this paper has uploaded a copy to Academia.edu, but omitting the prolific third author. Perhaps the first two authors realised that by signing on Dr Darjel Sina they became eligible for the bulk discount.

  4. Pink Pallino says:

    Strange enough there is no Via Fonte Bandusia 18 in Rome (the beneficiary address in bank account 1, Via means Street in italian)! The only Fonte Bandusia is a hotel “Albergo Fonte Bandusia”, Via Fonte Vecchia, 00026 Licenza Roma which is in the surroundings of Rome.

    • matteo says:

      hi, just to specify, i am from rome and via fonte bandusia exist it is in rome province in licenza. is about 30 km from the city but anyway is part of rome province.

      • Pink Pallino says:

        Hi Matteo, thanks indeed. Could you tell who lives in Via Fonte Bandusia 18 in Licenza? The MCSER should be located there. There should be some offices and so on.

  5. herr doktor bimler says:

    IAccording to the MJSS webpage, it’s “published by MCSER-Mediterranean Center of Social and Educational research”. The letterhead on PDFs of its publications are more ambitious, however, and claim that it’s “Published by MCSER-CEMAS-Sapienza University of Rome”.

    Now the Sapienza University di Roma does exist, and provides the Roman address (Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5) being used by MCSER (although the Sapienza website knows nothing of MCSER). And CEMAS is a research centre within the university (Centro di ricerca “Cooperazione con l’Eurasia, il Mediterraneo e l’Africa sub.sahariana”). But Googling for the combination “”CEMAS-sapienza university” only leads to publications from our Albanian grifter.

    As far as I can see, a certain Dottore Andrea Carteny (with a Sapienza affiliation) had the role of MJSS editor-in-chief for its first few issues. Meanwhile a Prof. Antonello Biagini — also of Sapienza — was the Executive Director of the whole MCSER outfit. Both have vanished from the MCSER and MJSS websites* (a different person from Georgia is now the Ed-in-chief) but MJSS is hanging onto the purported connection with a real university anyway, and continuing to claim their physical street location.

    Is it possible that MCSER and MJSS started out legitimately but succumbed to a journal hijacking or take-over? Do the people listed on the Editorial Board know that they are listed?

    * The current version, anyway. An older version still retains them.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      Update: According to the Wayback Machine, it was some time between June and August 2011 that MCSER added the option of electronic payment of submission fees (through the second of the current two options, i.e. the Romanian / Albanian bank “Intesa SaoPaolo Bank”, which also trades under the name “American Bank of Albania”, and is not dodgy at all). The other payment option — directly to Sokol Pacukaj, “MCSER coordinator” — was added later.

      Andrea Carteny was nominally still editing MJSS until July 2013, when the real-world contact address in Rome was still “Piazza S. Giovanni in Laterano 18/B”, which actually exists. Then in September 2013 there are new editors, and the address changes to “Via Fonte Bandusia 18”, which (as Pink Pallino noted above) cannot be found on the map.

      • Mr Polite says:

        “the Romanian / Albanian bank “Intesa SaoPaolo Bank”, which also trades under the name “American Bank of Albania”, and is not dodgy at all”

        To politely disagree with the subtext of your post: Intesa Sanpaolo Bank is the Albanian subsidiary of a major Italian bank. It used to be called American Bank of Albania before a corporate reorganisation a couple of years ago. There’s nothing dodgy about the bank.

  6. Vicki Webster says:

    International Journal of Innovative Research and Development
    http://ojms.cloudapp.net/index.php/ijird/pages/view/cfp

    Should probably be added to this list.

  7. Shawren Singh says:

    This journal now claims to be indexed on Scopus, see below:
    ————————————-
    MJSS is now Indexed by SCOPUS!

    We have the pleasure to inform you that after one year of evaluation Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences is accepted for incusion in SciVerse Scopus!

    SCOPUS is the largest abstract and citation database of peer reviewed articles, features smart tools to track, analyze and visualize research.

    MJSS and its editorial board congratulates everyone involved with the journal for their hard work and attention to the social fields. Thanks to all of you, the journal now enjoys a rising level of prestige in the publishing world.

    ——————————–
    If this is vanity presses, how did MJSS get on to SCOPUS?

    • That’s a question for SCOPUS. I stand by my evaluation of this publisher and strongly recommend that scholars not fall into the temptation it offers, quick, easy, and cheap publication of their work.

  8. Shawren Singh says:

    Jeffrey, I full support your evaluation of MJSS. The media in my country has been alerted to this issue. Please see below. The problem we face is that government departments trust the SCOPUS list and naive academic get exploited.

    _____________________________________________________

    The Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, published in Italy, has been called a scam but it appears on the CVs of several professors at XXXX as the publisher of papers authored by them.

    This journal, owned by the Mediterranean Centre of Social and Educational Research, will publish an article only on payment by the author of a fee of $200 (about R2200).

    But the quality of this publication was put into doubt recently by the author of an anonymous letter addressed to XXXXX but circulated widely.

    The letter’s author questioned the publication’s peer review system.

    He said he submitted to the journal a “98% plagiarised” article that had appeared in it before, in 2011.

    Some names were changed and the author used a pseudonym.

    The article was accepted for publication with a request for a publication fee “with no peer review report attached”, the letter to the vice chancellor claims.

    The author called on XXXX to investigate the journal. The university had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.

    At least two professors at XXXX list articles published in the journal on their CVs.

    Peer review is the process in which experts comment on and evaluate articles by their peers.

    US librarian Jeffrey Beall has made it his mission to expose what he calls “predatory journals” and has accused the Mediterranean Journal of Social Science of being one.

    “The standard among high-quality scholarly publishers is to perform a rigorous peer review and to use plagiarism-checking software before accepting a manuscript for publication,” Beall said.

    He said predatory journals made money from authors desperate to get their work published.

    XXXX, an acting deputy director-general in the Department of Higher Education and Training, said the publication was listed in Scopus, a database of academic journals.

    “No one has come to us about this journal, but if someone sent a complaint to us, we would investigate,” she said.

    The Mediterranean Journal said the XXXX article had been accepted because the publishers did not have plagiarism detecting software.

  9. Mashele says:

    The first time i went through the website of MJSS, i got baffled;
    1. One author could hv almost 10 articles in just one issue!!!….i found it strange
    2. One issue had more than 200 articles!!…
    3. I picked up endless inconsistencies in terms of referencing and general writing style
    4. I picked numerous papers whose abstracts didnt make any sense at all
    5. They r meant to publish 6 Isues a year , but they hv published 24 Issues thus far in 2014
    6. The peer review , which i doubt exist , is very shaky. no report whatsoever , except acceptance email.
    7. I tried to call their number but it is a fax number n could not reach them.
    8. Indeed, they prioritise money. Because many of us pay with international currency , they will tell you your paper is accepted but will b published 2 months later. This is to ensure that they receive payment first , because at times the process of payment can be long
    …..9. etc.

  10. Sipho says:

    Bravo! The DHET (South Africa) has removed the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences from its list of accredited journals based on Jeffrey Beall’s blog. I submitted an article to this journal in August 2014 and got a response a week later saying that my article had been approved for publication (with no comments from reviewers) and an invoice for US$200 – I just laughed. Many academics in South Africa have published in this journal (one has nine articles in this journal), surely they must have realised that something was wrong. Well done Jeffrey, keep up the good work.

  11. shah khan says:

    Dear friends, after looking at your valuable comments, Some questions arise in my mind..if the MJSS is a fake journal… first, why it is listed in the latest Scopus list released, 2014,,,,,whereas, some of the substandard journals have been shown cancelled in the latest list..MJSS is shown active…. Second, some friends are saying that this journal does not give any review… It does, may be not very critical….The review is accompanied by the processing fee.. Third, if it is a fake journal, why it is published under the name of Sapeinza University Rome…? Why the university did not declare its dis-association till now…. All this shows that the Scopus list is fake which is available in the Scopus site or something else which is a mystery…..

  12. Peterson says:

    I think these opinions are rather personal. For the fact that we have our papers published in top journals do not mean we should discredit new starters in the publishing field.

    To be indexed by Scopus requires some time and close monitoring for some time, particularly, years. I have just researched about MJSS and MCSER. Out of MCSER’s 3 journals, only MJSS passed Scopus test to be indexed. Therefore, I think its unfair to retain MJSS in your list of questionable journals if the journal has passed through Scopus screening process.

    For example, if scopus revokes their index on some top journals, you wont be quick to include the names of those top journals in your list of questionable journals. Its similar to retaining a new journal’s name in the list after the journal has been indexed by scopus.

    What I am saying is this: if a publisher intentionally submit its journals to ‘scopus’ and to ‘cope’ i think it shows that they are signaling something – that they have an intent to be reputable and to publish quality papers. Most top journals before they became reputable once had these issues too and had to go throught the same process. We need to permit new entrants into the field.

    Yes, we need to guide new researchers!

    However, if there are some evidence that a journal/publisher has submitted its journal to scopus and cope for close screening, monitoring and investigation, i think that journal is showing some commitment to contributing quality research to academia.

    It is good that you tried to speak to the publishers and you did not get a satisfactory answer. MCSER publisher may have refused to supply information to you because they feel you are not in a position to make them more reputable compared to Scopus or COPE, Thomas Reuters, etc. So, I am not surprised that you retained the names of these journals simply because you made personal investigations and they refused to provide you with such information.

    We need to understand that journals are like companies and thus they have policies and may not consent to provide information to you for some reasons, particularly, over phone calls and emails. If you visit their office, they can speak to you better.

    Sometimes, we need to put ourselves in the position of these publishers.

    I am not sponsored to speak for MJSS.

    I am just giving a neutral view point to allow new publishers to grow in the elite academic publishing market.

  13. Maxim says:

    I read only now this post, I published an article with MJSS in 2015 and I want to tell you my experience with the journal. My paper was initially rejected for exceeding 25% of similarities (all was properly cited and without plagiarism). They use iThenticate software for detecting plagiarism. I do not know what kind of software they used in the past, but I received a report in pdf about the plagiarism and similiarities. I also suggested two reviewers. My papers was send to other reviewers and they said that suggesting reviewers will help the journal to increase the quality of papers. My reviewers were used to review papers of other authors to ensure the blinded peer review. After the comment of reviewers and improvements made my paper was accepted (from submission to acceptance passed about 2 months), I paid eur 150 but i do not think that this is cheap, it is less then many other journals but for me it is a good price. I also received two hard copies included in the fee. I hope that Dr. Beall will re-evaluate and remove mcser in the future from his list. I do not think that MJSS is a fake journal.

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