Academic Journal Publisher Charged with Making False Claims and Failing to Disclose Publishing Fees
Image: Pixabay

Academic Journal Publisher Charged with Making False Claims and Failing to Disclose Publishing Fees

The publisher of hundreds of supposed online academic journals allegedly deceived academics and researchers

August 29, 2016

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed charges against OMICS Group, as well as two affiliated companies and their president and director, Srinubabu Gedela. The publisher allegedly deceived academics and researchers regarding the nature of its publications and hid from them the requirement of paying publication fees, which ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

According to a press release issued by the FTC, the publisher claims that its academic journals, like those of other publishers, follow stringent peer-review practices for the articles it publishes, and also that it has editorial boards composed of prominent academics. However, in reality many of the articles published in the journals received little or no peer review before publication, and numerous academics that the publisher claimed were editors did not agree to any affiliation with its journals.

In addition, OMICS does not inform researchers who submit articles for publication that they are required to pay significant publishing fees until after their articles have been accepted. Furthermore, it often will not allow the researchers to withdraw their submitted articles, which disqualifies the research for publication in another journal due to academic ethical standards.

"The defendants in this case used false promises to convince researchers to submit articles presenting work that may have taken months or years to complete, and then held that work hostage over undisclosed publication fees ranging into the thousands of dollars," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a written statement. "It is vital that we stop scammers who seek to take advantage of the changing landscape of academic publishing."

The complaint also alleges that the publisher claimed that its journals had a high "impact factor," a term describing the approximate frequency with which an article in a journal is cited in other research. The widely-accepted standard for calculating a journal's impact factor is a proprietary calculation made by Thomson Reuters; however, OMICS allegedly made its own calculations of the factors and did not clearly inform researchers of that fact. The publisher also claims that federal research databases, such as the National Institutes of Health's PubMed and MEDLINE services, index its journals, which the complaint states is untrue.

The publisher is additionally charged with deceiving consumers on a regular basis in promoting academic conferences it organizes. Allegedly, OMICS claims that prominent researchers will be participants and presenters at the conferences, when in reality many of the researchers did not agree to participate. The conferences charge registration fees that can add up to more than $1,000.

OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and Srinbabu Gedela are charged with numerous violations of the FTC Act's prohibition of deceptive acts or practices.