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 take publication fees without performing advertised services such as archiving, indexing or quality control. They often use outright deception, such as fake editorial boards or impact factors, to appear legitimate. Researchers might submit work to these outlets naively or cynically; even unread or sloppy articles are rewarded by some universities’ tenure, hiring and promotion decisions. Often, these unvetted articles attract little attention. However, because they sometimes get harvested by non-selective academic search engines such as Google Scholar, they could be found — and read — as part of the scientific corpus.

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…

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