A federal court granted a preliminary injunction to stop bogus academic journals and their owner from hiding publishing fees from authors and lying about peer reviews.
The court acted on a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed in Nevada. It’s the first action against so-called predatory publishers.
The complaint named OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and their CEO, director, and owner, Srinubabu Gedela.
The companies advertise hundreds of online academic journals and international conferences for scientists and medical professionals. Among the websites they operate are OMICSonline.org, iMedPub.com, and Conferenceseries.com.
The journals claim to provide authors with “rigorous peer review by editorial boards made up of prominent academics.”
In fact there is usually “little to no peer review and many individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals,” the FTC said.
Authors weren’t told about publishing fees until they had submitted their articles, the FTC said. Then they weren’t allowed to withdraw the articles. That made their research ineligible for publication in other journals.
The shady journals help academics meet the pressures to publish their research.
“Many of these journals have names that closely resemble those of established publications, making them easily mistakable,” the Times said.
“There is the Journal of Economics and Finance, published by Springer, but now also the Journal of Finance and Economics. There is the Journal of Engineering Technology, put out by the American Society for Engineering Education, but now another called the GSTF Journal of Engineering Technology.”
In September, Wired wrote about an an invitation Paul Vaucher received to submit an article for a special issue of the Journal of Forensic Research, published by a defendant in the FTC action.
Vaucher, then a PhD candidate at the University of Geneva in neuroscience, sent in his manuscript.
A proper peer review can take several months. But just a few days after Vaucher’s submission, he received an email from a title-less employee, “sending him an author’s proof with instructions to fix any typographical errors and this message: ‘If you fail to send the corrections within 48 hours, we may assume that you agreed to publish without corrections.'”
The email also said he owed a $900 fee to the journal’s publisher, OMICS Group, Wired said.
Vaucher sent a list of major corrections within a day. “He received no reply, and the article showed up online a few days later without any corrections,” Wired said.
The four researchers who wrote about predatory publishing in Nature invented a fake academic called Anna O. Szust. The name in Polish means fraudster.
They created a completely phony resumé for Dr. Szust and used it to apply for editorial posts at academic journals.
Forty-eight publications made her an editor. Four made her editor in chief.
A public health expert from Perth, Australia named Mike Daube got his dog on the editorial board of seven academic journals.
Daube created a ridiculous CV for his rescued Staffordshire terrier — “senior lecturer at the Subiaco College of Veterinary Science and past associate of the Shenton Park Institute for Canine Refuge Studies,” according to a report this month in boingboing.
Every journal he submitted the CV to put the dog on their editorial board.
“The Global Journal of Addiction and Rehabilitation Medicine even made her associate editor,” the report said.
The FTC’s Nevada complaint charged the defendants with multiple violations of the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive acts or practices.
The preliminary injunction requires the defendants “to clearly and conspicuously” disclose all costs associated with submitting or publishing articles in their journals.
It also prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations regarding their academic journals and conferences.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.