Journal hijackers still infiltrate Scopus despite its efforts

Anna Abalkina

Last December, Elsevier’s Scopus index deleted all links to journal homepages in response to the widespread issue of journal hijacking, when a legitimate title, website, ISSN, and other metadata of a journal are taken over without permission. 

Scopus has been a major target. I’ve cataloged 67 cases since 2013 of hijacked journals penetrating the database.  I found 23 profiles of journals that contained links to a cloned version, and 33 cases of content from the cloned version of a journal that had not been peer reviewed appearing in the profile of the legitimate journal, while 11 did both.

Since the deletion of all homepage links in the profiles of journals in Scopus, how journal hijackers would adapt their shady business practices has been unclear. We assumed they would continue hijacking new journals,  would they continue to target Scopus, given they could index only unauthorized content? 

Now, we have evidence hijacked journals remain in the database and continue to infiltrate it.

Before Scopus deleted the links to journal homepages, the webpage in the profile of Pakistan Heart Journal directed to a cloned version of the journal. Later, unauthorized content from a cloned Pakistan Heart Journal  appeared in Scopus, such as a paper titled “A new strategy for the genetic therapy of oral cancer: an update.” This title doesn’t correspond to the journal’s specialization in heart diseases, a mismatch typical for hijacked journals.

The cloned version of the Journal of Southwest Jiaotong University indexed some new content in the original journal’s Scopus profile, even after the index had previously deleted dozens of unauthorized papers. Screenshots of the publication list show papers from the original (above) and cloned journals (below) are indexed simultaneously. Two different papers are listed on the same pages of the same issue, which is impossible.

Another suspicious case concerns Obstetrics & gynaecology forum (ISSN 1029-1962) published in South Africa. Several webpages related to the journal exist. While this link is legitimate, I couldn’t confirm the authenticity of another  webpage registered in 2023 with the anonymous registrar GoDaddy. 

“In house Publications,” which once published the journal, no longer does so, and the company did not respond to my queries about whether the journal had been transferred to another publisher.  Neither the editor-in-chief nor the senior editors replied to my requests for information. 

The problematic version of the journal has published three special issues including papers on medical topics unrelated to obstetrics and gynecology, including prostate cancer, ischemic stroke, minerals in different fruits, liver cirrhosis, and kidney diseases.

Eleven papers from the first special issue (nine co-authored by the same researcher) have been indexed in Scopus.

These cases show that hijacked journals and problematic journals still target Scopus to index unauthorized content. We have no reason to expect them to stop.

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5 thoughts on “Journal hijackers still infiltrate Scopus despite its efforts”

  1. Pakistan Heart Journal (legitimate site ) has a warning sign from April 2023: “CAUTION! Fraudulent Replica Websites Alert” regarding the fraudulent site (fraudulent site

    Interestingly, the ISSN Portal database has the legitimate site listed as the URL, however, as late as August 2021, the ISSN Portal listed the now “fraudulent” site address as the URL for PHJ.

    So Occam’s razor – did PHJ just change domain names, letting the old one expire (and to be picked up by the fraudsters)? Or has this been in business far longer than we know?

    The Wayback machine shows the “fraudulent site” has been recorded as early as 2013 (

    It also shows the “legitimate site” being recorded starting in July 2021 (

    So seems likely someone forgot to pay their bill to renew their domain before it got picked up by some digitally industrious lads, or maybe some pricey marketing consultants urged the more descriptive change from “pk” to “pak” in the domain name. marketing genius. /shrug.

    The fraudsters don’t appear to issue DOI’s (as far as I could tell from a limited scan). Any recently published paper without a legitimate/qualified DOI/handle/arXiv ID should be regarded by readers with additional scrutiny – another predatory characteristic of the times. …which brings us back to our protagonist of the story…

    How does Scopus gather its content? given the circumstances, I am guessing by a web crawler vs direct publisher submission as is the case for the Crossref repository? or is this a tightly guarded trade secret? at any rate, if it is their own crawlers, then the onus is on them and your work here exposes a significant weakness in their data harvesting methodologies. This would provide a rational explanation as to how some of this yard trash may be arriving in their repositories. may just be the tip of the iceberg indeed.

  2. There is more to it when it comes to the publisher “In House Publications”. Looking at the publisher “In house publications” (used to) publish a number of journals. However looking at for example “South African Gastroenterology Review” ( ) this is now published by a ‘publisher’ called “The Netherlands Press” . I suspect this one is fake and the Netherlands Press site is basically an empty shell ( ).

    The legit site of the “South African Gastroenterology Review” is most likely (at least this looks reasonably legit looking at for example ).

    So, this resembles the story behind “Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum” where In House publications is no longer the publisher and a new player called “Great Rift Publishing” claims to be the new owner. By the way, their website looks misleadingly professional but when it comes to content it is all pretty pointless ( ).
    Looking at there is another resemblance: all papers have one or more authors in common…

    By the way, “Mental Health Matters” is most likely one of the two remaining journals/magazines still published by “In House Publications” (the website is hardly functional). The journal “Mental Health Matters” looks like a legit magazine which can be found here with the website

  3. I expect this to continue as long as publication remains the most profitable business. Why does it have to costs a fortune to publish.

  4. Great article! I’ve been monitoring the website ESTM Research Publications ( for sometime as they cloned a journal I support. They have adverts for the 3 journals listed in this article. I wouldn’t be surprised if more fake content of theirs has been harvested by Scopus.

    1. Dear Max
      This ESTM player is indeed yet another dubious one. Looking at the journal titles they ‘represent’ there are numerous ones with ‘issues’:
      Acta Pediátrica de México is mentioned in the RW Hijacked Journals Checker (although the mentioned website is a mistake) I think the legit site is while is the hijacked version
      Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis the website refers to the hijacked version as listed in the RW hijacked Journals Checker
      African Journal of Biological Sciences is a journal with issues, looking at Scopus content coverage there is a suspicious increase in published papers this year
      Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems the ESTM website refers to the hijacked version mentioned in the RW Hijacked Journals Checker
      Educational Administration: Theory and Practice is in the meantime discontinued in Scopus
      Journal of Optoelectronics Laser the website refers to the hijacked version as listed in the RW hijacked Journals Checker
      Pakistan Heart Journal again the hijacked version…
      Etc. Etc.

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