Two open-access journals — each titled Amphibian & Reptile Conservation — both claim to be the official organ of an organization also called Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. The split is the apparent result of a bitter academic “divorce.” Both journals use strong language to warn readers about the other one.
Here is a description of each of the two journals:
This instance of the journal appears to be edited by Dr. Robert K. Browne, who is listed as the organization’s chairperson. He is the author or co-author of numerous scholarly articles on various aspects of herpetology. Browne is based in Belize.
The journal does not list an ISSN, at least not that I saw. It prominently displays the CC BY NC ND license at the bottom of its main page but, perhaps contradicting the license, also states, “Subject to authors copyright, deposition in public libraries or on websites without permission is prohibited.”
The journal provides this warning about the other journal:
NOTIFICATION: This website and its affiliates are the official Internet website portals for the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation journal and our global conservation network. We own all copyright, exclusive of authors copyright, produced by any proxy fraudulently presenting as Amphibian and Reptile Conservation including the fraudulent Amphibian & Reptile Conservation journal http://www.amphibian-reptile-conservation.org as published by the “Amphibian and Reptile Conservation organisation” as an unspecified group led by Craig Hassipakis. Craig Hassipakis has a long and dismal history of fraudulent activities, including recently committing perjury in an attack on our global conservation network, as we document see Internet Fraud.
The journal has an editorial board page, but I see no names listed there. It claims to use the platinum open-access model, free to readers and free to authors.
This instance of the journal has two ISSNs (print and online) and reports that it is published in the United States, but it doesn’t say exactly where (though the copyright transfer form says Modesto, California). The journal says that it was founded by Craig Hassapakis, and he appears to lead this organization.
This journal also provides an indirect warning about the other one but uses more measured and professional (and less personal) language:
In addition, if an article or any of our content appears on another website and claims to be Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, or ARC, it is fraudulent and in violation of international law. Our contributions only appear on this website, the official and authorized website for the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ISSN: 1083-446X; eISSN: 1525-9153; Founded: 1996; Published in the USA; Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org) to be considered legitimate, and must bear our trademark …
The journal lists an editorial board that includes respected researchers in the field. I am unclear if authors are charged any publishing fees and wish the journal were more transparent about this. The journal requires that authors sign over copyright but then apparently releases the articles under a Creative Commons license, a non-standard yet legal practice. More confusingly, the articles bear copyright statements from the authors — how can they hold copyright if they must transfer it to the publisher?
This case was originally reported to me as a journal hijacking, but I don’t think this is the case. Instead, as I indicated, I think it is the result of an academic split, a bitter and unfortunate disagreement between two researchers. Judging from this 2011-2012 issue of the journal (pictured below), the two were still collaborating at that time, for their names appear together on the cover:
Academic divorces can be brutal and can go on for years. Which of these two journals and organizations is the legitimate one? Or are they both problematic?
Hat tip: Edris Merufinia