FTC goes after publisher of 'predatory' journalsFTC goes after publisher of 'predatory' journals
September 29, 2016
THE Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken legal action against the publisher of a large number of what are being called "predatory" scientific journals.
In its lawsuit against OMICS Group Inc. — which operates hundreds of online journals in a variety of fields, including agriculture, food, environmental sciences and veterinary science — FTC said the company bombards scientists with emails soliciting articles, misrepresents the reputation of its publications and doesn't disclose that authors have to pay substantial fees — ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars — to be published.
In addition to OMICS Group, FTC is challenging two OMICS-affiliated companies, iMedPub LLC and Conference Series LLC, along with company president and director Srinubabu Gedela.
According to the complaint, OMICS fails to tell researchers that they must pay significant publishing fees until after it has accepted an article for publication and often will not allow researchers to withdraw their articles from submission, thereby making the research ineligible for publication in another journal.
"The defendants in this case used false promises to convince researchers to submit articles presenting work that may have taken months or years to complete and then held that work hostage over undisclosed publication fees ranging into the thousands of dollars," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "It is vital that we stop scammers who seek to take advantage of the changing landscape of academic publishing."
Among the deceptive statements OMICS made to researchers, according to the complaint, were descriptions of its journals as having a high "impact factor" — a term that describes approximately how frequently articles in a particular journal are cited in other research.
Thomson Reuters' proprietary measure of journals' impact factor is the widely accepted standard, but OMICS allegedly calculated its own impact scores and did not clearly disclose that fact to consumers.
The defendants also tell researchers that their journals are indexed by federal research databases, including the National Institutes of Health's PubMed and MEDLINE services, when, in fact, that is not true, according to the complaint.
In addition to misrepresentations related to journal publishing services, FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants regularly deceive consumers while promoting academic conferences they organize. The defendants allegedly include the names of prominent researchers as participants and presenters at the conferences, which charge registration fees that can cost more than $1,000, but many of those researchers often did not even agree to participate in the events.
The FTC complaint charges the defendants with multiple violations of the FTC Act's prohibition on deceptive acts or practices. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
FTC warns to beware of predatory journal publishers
Unscrupulous publishers can be difficult to spot. They often make themselves sound legitimate by overstating their reputation or by using journal names that sound similar to the names of reputable journals. If you're considering publishing in a journal with which you are not familiar, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises asking the following three questions:
1. What does your librarian have to say? Check with your university librarian to see if he or she has ever heard of the journal or the publisher. Your librarian also may be able to tell you if the journal is included in relevant indexing services.
2. Are there any publication fees? A legitimate journal will tell you up front whether it charges publication fees or not. If a journal doesn't mention fees, don't assume that there aren't any. Contact the journal or publisher and ask about any fees.
3. What is the journal's publishing process? A legitimate journal will clearly lay out its publishing process, peer-review practices and author responsibilities.
FTC advises anyone approached or taken in by a predatory publisher to report it.
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