‘Frankly abusive’: More questions about the journal that stole an author’s identity

Last week, we brought you the story of a professor who found her name on an article she didn’t write, which also seemed to have been plagiarized. 

Since our story was published, we’ve learned a little more about the journal that published the article, the African Journal of Political Science

Jephias Mapuva, a professor at the Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe, who is listed as the editor in chief of the journal, told us in an email that he is “not associated with the journal in any way.” 

“It came to me as a surprise that I am listed as an Editor-In-Chief,” he wrote. He also copied an email address for the journal publisher, International Scholars Journal, and asked for his name to be removed from the website: 

THIS IS HIGHLY DISAPPOINTING and an inconvenience on my profile.

The journal’s editorial board also includes a couple of engineering professors and a “Commercial Manager of Multifarious Projects Group” in India. 

As commenters on our original story pointed out, another African Journal of Political Science exists with the same ISSN listed on the International Scholars Journals website. 

Its information page states the publication is an open-access journal that does not charge article processing fees, and is an outlet of the African Association of Political Science. The journal seems to have restarted publishing last year, after halting in 2004. The International Scholars Journals publication has put out issues continuously since 2007. 

Siphamandla Zondi, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, who is listed as editor in chief of the African Journal of Political Science not affiliated with International Scholars Journals, has not responded to our request for comment. 

International Scholars Journals is included on Jeffrey Beall’s list of “potentially predatory journals and publishers,” other commenters noted. Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, took down the list in 2017, but archived versions remain online. 

Commenter Chung-Chuan Lo shared a link to an account of another academic’s encounter with the alleged African Journal of Political Science. She described what happened after submitting a commentary, at the journal’s invitation: 

Then the hustle for money started. The price was initially over 1000 euros. Obscene. Then they called me (!), they kept emailing, they would not hear my (several) requests to withdraw the article, and they are still emailing. This is frankly abusive. Oh, and they tried to charge a withdrawal fee, before deciding to keep the article. This sort of harassement qualifies the operation as fraudulent and engaging in spearphishing.

As for why the journal published an article attributed to someone who didn’t write it, several commenters speculated that the publisher was attempting to fill issues with copy and apply a veneer of respectability with the name of a legitimate academic. We’ve previously reported on similar attempts using the names of famous authors including Walt Whitman and Charlotte Brontë.

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