U.S. agency charges a publisher for deceiving academicians
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged OMICS Group, Inc. for deceiving researchers and academicians about publication fees, peer review process, and the nature of its publications.
On its official website, OMICS claims that it operates more than 700 “peer reviewed, open access journals” and has “50,000+ Editorial Board Members and esteemed reviewers and 1000+ Scientific associations” in various fields. However, the complaint registered by FTC states that these claims are false, and most of the papers published by the OMICS journals do not follow a peer review process. Further, it accuses OMICS of listing editors without seeking their consent and declaring a high impact factor without any appropriate evidence. The most concerning part of the charge is that OMICS does not reveal its publication charges until after accepting an article for publication. Moreover, it does not allow researchers to withdraw their manuscript. Therefore, those who have submitted their paper either have to pay to get their paper published or risk their paper being held hostage.
Incidentally, Jeffrey Beall, a librarian renowned for maintaining a list of publishers with questionable practices, had listed the OMICS Group as one of the probable predatory publishers. Taking a stance against questionable publishing, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said, “It is vital that we stop scammers who seek to take advantage of the changing landscape of academic publishing.” If FTC succeeds in winning the suit, the court might order OMICS to return money to the affected researchers. While the exact amount has not been specified, this would be a big step in bringing predatory publishers to justice.