A pending Federal Trade Commission lawsuit illuminates an information-age peril for science: predatory journals that destructively exploit the author-pays method of open access. Media reports began appearing several years ago about such publications’ deceptive and unethical practices. Recently Bloomberg Businessweek, Nature, and a few others have brought predatory journals back into the spotlight—this time with new dimensions.
The FTC lawsuit confronts the organization called OMICS and two allied enterprises, all led by Srinubabu Gedela of Hyderabad, India. OMICS boasts that it has “700+ leading-edge peer reviewed, Open Access Journals that operates [sic] with the help of 50,000+ Editorial Board Members.” The lawsuit cites a statute against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in leveling allegations involving author fees, peer review, manuscript withdrawal, editors’ stature, editorial board membership, and journal scholarly standing.
Inside Higher Ed reported last year that Jeffrey Beall—originator of the phrase predatory journals—considers OMICS “the worst of the worst.” But the problem extends beyond Gedela and OMICS. That’s why Inside Higher Ed also quoted FTC staff attorney Ioana Rusu calling the lawsuit “a line in the sand” for other alleged offenders.