FTC Files Charges Against Academic Publisher
FTC Files Charges Against Academic Publisher OMICS Group
By Ian Evans
For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission is going after what it considers to be a predatory publisher of scientific journals. The agency is charging OMICS Group, an India-based, Nevada-incorporated conglomerate — along with its president and director, Srinubabu Gedela, and two affiliated companies, iMedPub LLC and Conference Series LLC — with misrepresenting the legitimacy of its publications, deceiving researchers, and hiding publication fees.
So-called predatory journal publishers exploit the open-access publishing model by establishing new and authoritative-sounding, open-access journal titles, and then directly soliciting submissions from scientists. Once submissions are received and published — typically with little or no real peer review — the publisher demands exorbitant and often hidden fees from the researcher. OMICS is just one of many publishers that have begun producing an ever-expanding collection of such obscure journal titles in recent years. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver who maintains a highly regarded annual list of 1,000 “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers,” has frequently criticized OMICS Group and its various iterations.OMICS Group and Mr. Gedela did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
“[T]he open-access publisher OMICS International completely sucks,” Beall wrote on his blog in July. “The stark language here is justified, I believe, by the abusive, exploitative, and unethical actions that OMICS International has engaged in against honest researchers.”
The FTC claims that OMICS and its affiliates target less-experienced researchers, often through direct contact and aggressive soliciting. The company improves its odds of luring unwitting researchers, the FTC charges, by listing prominent researchers as being among its journal editors, even though many of these editors have not agreed to work with OMICS titles. Once a researcher does submit a paper to an OMICS journal, the FTC says the publisher performs, at best, a perfunctory peer review, after which it charges “hundreds to thousands of dollars” in fees.
Federal authorities also charge that OMICS falsely claims that its journals are indexed by several federal research databases, including PubMed and MEDLINE, and that its affiliates arrange conferences — for which participants often pay over $1,000 in attendance fees — by falsely advertising appearances by highly recognized researchers, many of whom were wholly unaware of the conferences.
The FTC is asking a U.S. District Court in Nevada to order OMICS to return money to researchers, freeze OMICS Group’s assets and “[a]ward such relief as the Court finds necessary to redress injury to consumers.”
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