The lawsuit, filed in August 2016, accused the defendants — which include Gedela and OMICS Group, iMedPub, and Conference Series — of deceptive business practices related to journal publishing and scientific conferences. The FTC alleged the defendants used the names of prominent researchers to draw conference attendees, even though the researchers had not agreed to participate; misled readers about whether articles had been peer reviewed; failed to provide authors with transparent information about publishing fees prior to submission; and presented misleading “impact factors” for journals.
With so many journals out there, it can be hard to know which ones are legitimate, and which ones have adopted so-called “predatory” practices – publishing anything as long as authors can pay. In this guest post, computer scientist Jacob Beal at BBN Technologies highlights one way he believes software companies may indirectly endorse questionable publishers by working with them– and why they should stop.
If you are a researcher, there’s a pretty good chance that you know Editorial Manager, the manuscript-handling system used by a vast number of journals, including Nature and the PLoS family of journals. In a publishing environment made increasingly murky by so-called “predatory” and other low-quality publishers, it used to be the case that seeing Editorial Manager was a clear signal that a journal was at least legitimate, whatever other pluses or minuses it might have.
Journals have retracted two papers after they were flagged by a pseudonymous blogger, who suspected all had copied text from other sources.
What’s more, a third paper seems to have simply disappeared from the journal’s website, after the blogger, Neuroskeptic, alerted the journal to the text overlap.
Neuroskeptic became suspicious about the three unrelated papers – about food chemistry, heart disease, and the immune system and cancer – after scanning them with plagiarism software. After alerting the journals, two issued formal retractions for the papers – but neither specifies plagiarism as the reason.
The retractions were the result of a larger project, Neuroskeptic told us:
Sometime in the middle of 2015, Jennifer Byrne, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Sydney, began her journey from cancer researcher to a scientific literature sleuth, seeking out potentially problematic papers.
The first step was when she noticed several papers that contained a mistake in a DNA construct which, she believed, meant the papers were not testing the gene in question, associated with multiple cancer types. She started a writing campaign to the journal editors and researchers, with mixed success. But less than two years later, two of the five papers she flagged have already been retracted.
The invitation was from Intellectual Consortium of Drug Discovery and Technology Development, Inc. — often just called “Consortium” — to be on its editorial board. Too curious to resist, Spears accepted. Then, he was told, he had to write an editorial.
So one night in December, he sat down and wrote something connecting predatory-prey relationships in nature to predatory publishing — calling out the publisher along the way. Spears told us:
This summer, Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears was sitting by a lake on vacation when he opened a spam email from a publisher. Amused to see the sender was a journal focused on bioethics, he got an idea.
I thought, what if I just throw something outrageous at them?
The situation should sound familiar to readers who follow such “sting” operations: Spears submitted a fake paper to the so-called “predatory” journal, it was accepted one month later with no changes, and published.
Nine years ago, a well-known pharmacologist hosted a researcher from another university in his lab. On a Saturday night last September, he learned while surfing Google Scholar that they had published a paper together.
Marco Cosentino, who works at the University of Insubria in Italy, know that Seema Rai, a zoologist at Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya in India, had collected data during during her six months in his lab, but had warned her they were too preliminary to publish. She published the data — on melatonin’s role in immunity — anyway, last summer in the Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology, listing Cosentino as the second author.
The day after he discovered the paper, Cosentino sent an email to the editor in chief of the journal, Charles Malemud, explaining why he did not approve of the publication: