A country’s rankings in academic indices rests to a large extent on how academically rigorous research is in both public and private universities and other institutions of higher education. Pakistan has long lagged behind its neighbors, and peers, in these rankings.
However, a recent investigative report by The News shows that since 2019, “around 150 fake research papers have been published by more than 400 Pakistani scholars and academics belonging to various public and private sector universities in a clone journal named ‘International Journal of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity’ (IJDRBC). The term clone journal refers to a substandard journal that copies the name of a reputable journal.”
What is worrying is that “some authors apparently knowingly submitted their papers to the clone journal, which is evident from the fact that a single issue of the journal has carried from four to five papers produced by the same authors, which is something that a reputable journal would never allow.”
Authors who have published in this fake clone journal include the legal director general of Pakistan Procurement Authority and 400 Pakistani academics and researchers from Bahria University, Riphah University, University of Peshawar, University of Sargodha, Punjab University, Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar, Islamic International University Islamabad, University of Swat, and University of Sindh.
Such scams are not new to Pakistan. In 2015, an investigation by The New York Times, exposed the ‘Axact’ scam: “vast education empire: hundreds of universities and high schools, with elegant names and smiling professors at sun-dappled American campuses.” Three years later, Shoaib Shaikh and 22 others were sentenced to 20 year sin prison for fake degrees in something then Pakistan Chief Justice called the a national shame.
That such incidents are still not taken seriously by the powers that be is evident from the response of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to a query by The News on the clone IJDRBC. “The spokesperson was unable to comment and said that he would forward the question to the relevant department and after getting a written response from them, he would inform The News.”