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Monday, July 15, 2024

The dark side of the researches in Pakistan

The journals recognized by HEC are linked with Universities and many are independent journals. The independent journals indulged in illegal activities are destroying the research value of Pakistan and social media is being used for this purpose as well.

A researcher’s worst nightmare in Pakistan is that his or her journal in which they have published gets delisted from HEC or worse, gets blacklisted. In Pakistan, the research culture is very minimal and within that hides a dark secret of researchers and the journal mafia of Pakistan. Not so long ago, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan launched a website, HJRS (HEC Journal Recognition System), on which all the national and international level journals that are recognized by HEC are listed. HEC divides journals into three categories W, X, and Y. The top and with the highest impact factor journal are categorized in W followed by a lower impact factor category X and the least impact factor category Y.

The journals recognized by HEC are linked with Universities and many are independent journals. Mostly the independent journals indulged in illegal activities are destroying the research value of Pakistan. At the start of 2022, I published two of my Research papers in HEC-recognized journals. After that, I slowly got to know what this mafia is.

Read more: Why Pakistan’s research sector needs urgent attention

Understanding research mafia

On Facebook or other social media platforms, you can find research groups. In those groups, there are people who are charging huge amounts of money to get you published in a journal. Upon asking a couple of these people I found that many well-reputed journals of all the categories and even some high-impact factor journals were charging huge amounts of money to publish. They usually cover this cost by saying that it is a publication fee but in reality, it is bribe money. The higher the Journals reputation, the more money they’ll charge. This starts at a minimum of 40 thousand PKR and ends in Lacs.

In Pakistan, anyone who can write a minimum of 4 thousand words and have 40 to 50 thousand rupees to invest can easily become a published researcher. This not only harms credibility, but it also places people who have done proper research, followed proper ethics, gone through a proper editorial process, and then been published in the same category as those who used money or touts to get published.

Every year, many journals are delisted by HEC and some are even blacklisted because they were publishing research papers with plagiarism of over 19% as HEC only allows 19% plagiarism. But that’s not it. Here come people who charge a fee to reduce your plagiarism. This fee varies from around 5 to 10 thousand PKR. If a person who has completed his or her research paper and has a plagiarism score of 30% can actually pay and get it under 19%.

The illegal activities don’t end here

Many teachers also help students get published using their links and in return ask students to make them co-author of their Research papers. This is the reason that, nowadays, professors have hundreds of publications, and according to their career, it could be only possible if they write a research paper every day. And if some students refuse to include the name of their professor, they threaten to fail them. In fear, many students add the names of their teachers to avoid any dispute.

Read more: Three Punjab University professors declared world’s best researchers

People who use illegal means to get published are not only affecting the careers of other researchers but also, when they work in academia or research think tanks, they end up destroying the institute. Nowadays, you can find similar kinds of research papers with different titles in different journals as very few people are actually conducting ethical research and the rest are busy copying previously published research papers and writing in their own way.

If this continues, the research culture in Pakistan will become more and more corrupt. People will make research a business, charge a heavy amount of money for every publication, and damage the careers of those who cannot afford it.


The writer holds Journalism certifications from LUMS and UCP. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.