U.S. gov’t sues academic publisher over deceiving researchers, readers

U.S. gov’t sues academic publisher over deceiving researchers, readers

The Federal Trade Commission’s job is to step in against deceptive practices against consumers, but suing a publisher, especially an academic one, seems rare. But the agency has decided to act on some egregious behavior by OMICS Group:

“The FTC’s complaint alleges that OMICS Group, Inc., along with two affiliated companies and their president and director, Srinubabu Gedela, claim that their journals follow rigorous peer-review practices and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics. In reality, many articles are published with little to no peer review and numerous individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals.

According to the FTC’s complaint, OMICS does not 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. Academic ethics standards generally forbid researchers from submitting the same research to more than one journal.”

According to the FTC, the company’s other deceptive practices include:

  • Calculating its own ‘impact factor’ for its journals, then claiming to have high scores
  • Telling researchers the company’s journals are indexed in PubMed and MEDLINE, which they are not
  • Including the names of prominent researchers as attendees and speakers at company-sponsored conferences, when said researchers had not agreed to participate

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “It is vital that we stop scammers who seek to take advantage of the changing landscape of academic publishing.”

The complaint can be found here. The suit was filed in federal district court in Nevada.

(H/T to Retraction Watch)

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