OA Publisher Disappears from Internet, Goes Out of Business

VictorQuest Publications

Long gone …

You spend a couple years carrying out some research, another year writing it up, and then you submit your research manuscript to an open-access publisher. It’s accepted, you pay the article processing charges, and then it is published online. A year later, the publisher goes out of business and all its published articles disappear forever.

This is the actual scenario for many authors who published with the former open-access publisher called VictorQuest Publications.

VictorQuest, now officially dissolved, published these seven journals [Note: the links go to the Wayback Machine’s archived version of the pages]:

International Journal of Basic Sciences and Applied Research (ISSN: 2147-3749)
International Journal of Agronomy and Plant Production (ISSN: 2051-1914)
International Journal of Sport Studies (ISSN: 2251-7502)
International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Research (ISSN: 2322-4002)
International Journal of Management and Humanity Sciences (ISSN: 2322-424X)
International Journal of Traditional and Herbal Medicine (ISSN: 2345-3249)
Journal of Applied Mathematics and Engineering computations

If you’re an author who paid article processing charges to this company, reasonably expecting that your content would be available forever, it appears that you are out of luck. I had this publisher on my list early on, and the criteria I use when evaluating publishers includes analyzing the publisher’s plans for digital preservation. This publisher had none, and its demise illustrates the value of digital preservation.

Scholarly authors should not submit their works to journals that lack honest and standard digital preservation practices, especially if they are paying to publish.

While it’s true that some articles are still available on the internet, scattered around the web at various websites such as ResearchGate, the articles were not published bearing Creative Commons licenses; instead, they had copyright statements:

VictorQuest Publications

Copyrighted.

These copyright statements may make it harder for legitimate organizations to archive any remaining VictorQuest articles floating around, fearing legal action from the copyright owner.

It is also entirely possible that the owners of VictorQuest never intended the operation to be permanent. It’s ephemeral existence may have been the strategy from the beginning: make some quick and easy money, and then disappear.

Update:

After I drafted this blogpost, Dr. Jaime Teixeira da Silva reported to me that he found one of the VictorQuest journals still functioning. This is the International Journal of Agronomy and Plant Production (IJAPP). The site bears one of VictorQuest’s old logos (a logo that appears to have been lifted from the SEREN Global Media website) and apparently all the original articles. So it appears that VictorQuest is not completely dead. Note that the journal uses bogus metrics (Universal Impact Factor (UIF): 0.5564; Global Impact Factor (GIF): 0.467) to promote itself.

Did VictorQuest lift this logo from SEREN?

Did VictorQuest lift this logo from SEREN?

11 Responses to OA Publisher Disappears from Internet, Goes Out of Business

  1. Marco says:

    Looks to me like all the journals (excluding the last one) still have a functional website, including full access to the papers.

    Hilariously, I can’t access the Victorquest homepage – my university has labeled it a SPAM website :-)

  2. Alan Benson says:

    Just out of curiosity, was the line “This is a demo content. Please edit me” on their logo when they were live? If so, then wow.

  3. Riaz Uddin says:

    The cover page is interesting as they gave people the option to edit! Probably this is another definition of “open” access- “we are so open that you even can edit our web page”.

    Recently I got astonished to note that one journal, forgot the name, is claiming they have ISI Impact Factor. It was surprising as the journal started it operation less than couple of years ago. So, out of curiosity I found claimed “ISI Web page”. Here it is: http://isindexing.com/isi/

    I don’t know whether it is an offense or not to use the abbreviation to fool people. I am wondering Thomson Reuters perhaps can take action in this regard and save researchers from publishing in bogus IF journals.

    Do you have anything in your mind Jeffrey?

    Thanks.

    • I spoke to a Thomson Reuters representative at their booth at a conference this summer. He told me they are aware of the problem but are unconcerned. I was surprised by this.

      • Riaz Uddin says:

        Then I must hypothesize that Thomson Reuters is not standing against a syndicate of profit seeker criminals which in turn make TR nothing but a “businessman” not caring about integrity of academic publishing and pseudo-supporting the flourishing of such academic crimes!

    • C'est moi! says:

      Following almost one month of relentless contacts (including painful conflicts) to over 100 individuals related with this publisher and journal, including traceable authors, individuals within the Iranian Ministry of Education, CABI, DOAJ, Jeffrey Beall and others, I am pleased to inform readers that, most likely under pressure by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which hosts the online journal, that all content from 2010-2013 is back online. But who is actually hosing it? Not only does this case demonstrate the real on-the-ground negative effects that a supposedly academic open access publisher poses to the security of digital information, but also shows how volatile the world of open access publishing is. Finally, there is only one set of victims here: scientists.

      There is now massive urgency in formally capturing all information from that web-site. For example, I have now personally taken screen shots and copies of ALL the web-pages, as proof just in case there is another “disappearing” incident in the future. I have screened the contents of all the journal volumes and I estimate that between 93 and 98% of the authorship is from Iran, with very few authors from India, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Nigeria. Also, all PDF files need to desperately be downloaded and archived, also just in case the publisher “fades away” in the future. I have asked DOAJ to consider this, but to balance archiving for historical needs vs archiving for academic needs will become a very important issue to consider moving forward by these indexing / abstracting companies like CABI.

      Most importantly, post-publication peer review is seriously and urgently required. For example, one will notice 8 papers by one pair of Iranian researchers (Neda Ozhan and Maryam Hajibabaei) that have ample errors, even basic ones (e.g., in the titles). These papers were published recently in the September issue of Volume 4, 2013 [1]. VictorQuest referred to itself as an academic publisher, claiming “The International Journal of Agronomy and Plant Production (IJAPP) (ISSN 2051-1914) is an open access journal that publishes high-quality solicited and unsolicited articles, in English, in all areas of agronomy and Plant production including actual problems of modern agriculture incl. crop and animal science, genetics, economics, technical aspects, agriculture and environmental relations and etc. in the temperate regions of the world. All articles published in IJAPP will be peer-reviewed.” [2]

      Why does CABI (and Elsevier) archive papers by what is clearly a very problematic publisher / journal [3]? IJAPP claims to employ high publishing ethics (i.e., COPE ethics [4]) when its parent company is involve din questionable academic practices. Clicking on the COPE link leads from the IJAPP / VictorQuest web-site to another unidentifiable publisher that publishes a journal “Scientific Research and Review Journal (SRRJ)”. Does COPE agree being used by this and other publishers in this way? If yes, then why, especially since VictorQuest and IJAPP are not COPE members [5]? Even if it wanted to, could COPE launch a complaint with VictorQuest Publications to disassociate itself with COPE, given the fact that VictorQuest Ltd. is now a dissolved UK company?

      I am personally of the opinion that the literature that is rapidly proliferating in these “types” of journals pose a serious risk to the academic integrity of the scientific literature, as much as high-profile cases in top-level IF journals, simply because these papers are increasingly creeping into the literature, by being referenced in more and more truly mainstream academic journals. Finally, isn’t it odd why one cannot access the content of the first two issues of Volume 5, in 2014 [6]?

      In closing, I should add that Jeffrey Beall covered this case well on his blog today.

      [1] http://www.ijappjournal.com/2013-4-9/
      [2] http://www.ijappjournal.com/about-the-journal/
      [3] http://www.ijappjournal.com/abstracted-indexed-in/
      [4] http://www.ijappjournal.com/publisher/ (If you click on the COPE link, it leads to an unrelated IJAGCS.com PDF document)
      [5] http://publicationethics.org/members
      [6] http://www.ijappjournal.com/2014-2/

  4. […] A publisher disappears, along with all of its journals, although one seems to be back online. […]

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