Publisher of controversial UPM paper launches investigation

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The publisher of the journal in which the controversial article by Universiti Putra Malaysia academics was published is launching an investigation on the matter.

Human Resource Management Academic Research Society (HRMARS) director of journal publications Sunil Noel said that the publisher was unaware of the controversy and that the article would be put on hold.

“However, in case of any query like yours as per procedure we will now inquire about the facts with the concerned author and an inquiry committee will be formed to investigate your concern,” he said yesterday in response to Malaysiakini’s queries.

This comes after UPM’s Rozita Che Rodi and Hashim Musa were criticised for their article titled “The Jongs and The Galleys: Traditional Ships of The Past Malay Maritime Civilization” published in the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Vol 13, Issue 11, 2023.

French historian Serge Jardin claimed that the photo published in the article was not a Malay jong but instead a Foochow pole junk.

Sunil went on to defend the journal’s integrity, saying that it follows the standard peer review process and preserves all review and plagiarism reports.

At least two reviewers review each paper, he added.

He also denied claims that HRMARS is a predatory publisher despite being listed on Beall’s List of “potential predatory scholarly open access publishers”, saying that the list has no worth.

“Please note that this Beall list has no worth and now it has been challenged in a court of law as well by many journals. We are indexed in reputable indexes,” he said.

The open-access model is where academic authors pay a fee for their article to undergo a peer-review process and be published in a journal that can be accessed freely, as opposed to the subscription model where the fee is charged to readers of the article.

The International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences charges a fee of US$82 to authors whose works have been accepted for publication in the journal.

Predatory publishers are publishers who abuse the open-access model by implementing a superficial review process. This often results in collecting fees for publishing numerous articles, many of which are of poor quality.

Beall’s List is a list of publishers that the former librarian Jeffery Bealle suspected to be predatory. He has taken down the list in 2017, but some researchers have taken it upon themselves to keep the list live and updated. A 2018 article in Nature said the researchers have declined to identify themselves fearing harassment.

Meanwhile, Jardin told Malaysiakini that UPM’s response to his allegations were “a joke”.

“Are we speaking of a peer blind review or are the so-called experts blind?

“How is it possible for an expert not to see the difference between a Chinese junk and a Malay jong?

via Malaysiakini

“Have you ever seen a Malay boat with a pair of eyes at the bow, which clearly belongs to the Chinese culture?” he said.

On Tuesday, UPM defended its academics, saying that the article published in a journal that has a “blind peer-reviewed, refereed journal” policy and is also listed in the is listed on the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) journals list.

“It must also be considered that social science and humanities field is open to interpretation, which is a good practice for studies like this for the sake of improvement,” UPM said in a statement.

Malaysiakini’s checks on the ERA website found that it carried a disclaimer that the list is only meant to support ERA’s own evaluations and “must not be used as a future guide to publishing or as a quality indicator for publishing outlets”.

In criticising the article via Facebook on Saturday, Jardin said: “The photo does not show a Malay jong but a Foochow pole junk from China.

“The model is not in the Maritime Museum of Jakarta but in the Royal Museums of Greenwich, England (ID: AAE0200). In a museum, all exhibits have an identification number.”

Jardin then provided a link to a model of a Foochow pole junk displayed by the Royal Museums of Greenwich.

He also claimed that local mariners did not use galleys during the Malacca sultanate period as it was only introduced to the region by the Portuguese. – Malaysiakini