To thwart publishing rackets that undermine scholars and scholarly publishing, legitimate journals should show their workings.
In 2018, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won a US$50-million ruling against the publisher OMICS for deceptive business practices. The FTC’s investigation found that OMICS accepted and published nearly 69,000 articles in academic disciplines with little or no peer review. The judgement against the infamous publisher, located in Hyderabad, India, proved difficult to enforce. But the ensuing stigma still carries a penalty. In the two years after the FTC filed its complaint, the articles OMICS published under its imprint fell by 40%. After all, a publisher with no reputation is preferable to a publisher with a bad one.
Predatory publishers/questionable publishers are cancers on legitimate research outputs, which pervades the body of scientific knowledge. This latest version of the scam is deeply troubling and could see honest and responsible researchers being identified as guilty of repeat publication of the same output.
A year after the FTC judgement, principal scientific adviser to the Government of India Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan lamented the difficulty of stamping out the “menace” of predatory publishers. He likened them to the Hydra, the creature of Greek myth that sprouts two heads for each one severed.