Monday, February 11, 2013

Predatory Open-Access Scholarly Publishers

I recently received an invitation (via LinkedIn) to speak at the 2nd International Conference on Forensic Research & Technology, to be held in October in Las Vegas. While it's always a bit flattering to receive an invitation to present, I had to admit that I'd never heard of the conference or it's host - OMICS Group.

Before agreeing, I searched the net and asked friends if they'd heard of the group or it's conference. No one in my circle of friends had heard of the group, much less the conference. A little more searching dug up an old article from the Charleston Advisor.

In their expose of "Predatory Open-Access Scholarly Publishers," the Advisor notes, "... I recently discovered OMICS Publishing Group, which appears to be a brand-new entry into the predatory Open-Access publishing industry, an industry that seems to be growing by the week. Based on the international dialing code on OMICS' Contact page, it appears that this publisher is based in India (the site does not give an address or location, only telephone numbers, including some in the U.S. area code 650). OMICS offers 68 peer-reviewed journals, most of which are health sciences titles. Few of the journals have any content. When one clicks on Current Issue or Previous issue on each journal's home page, a page appears that says “coming soon.”

Having a large number of titles, as does the OMICS Publishing Group, is typical of predatory Open-Access publishers. Also typical is each journal's broad coverage. For instance, among this publisher's titles we find Earth Science and Climate Change, Anesthesia and Clinical Research, and Bacteriology and Parasitology. By offering 68 titles each with a broad coverage, this publisher is tacitly saying it will publish anything.

OMICS' Web site stands out for its sophisticated look and feel. It has a very professional look and repeatedly pays homage to the Open Access movement, a movement it is exploiting. The tag line on the publisher's home page reads“OMICS Publishing Group: An Open Access publisher for the advancement of science and technology.” OMICS very cleverly uses logos from several legitimate organizations associated with Open Access on its pages. For example, on its home page, the publisher has logos for CrossRef, PubMed Central, DOAJ, Index Copernicus, and Scientific Commons.

The publisher also has a link called Conferences that leads to a page with scientific conference information, a trick to make the site look more scholarly and legitimate. The home page uses graphics and layout that effectively mimic legitimate publishers' Web sites. OMICS uses the “author-pays” model (OA gold) to support Open Access. Buried on one page I found a reference to “handling fees” that are charged upon acceptance of a manuscript.

The predatory Open Access publishing industry is getting more and more competitive. This publisher's marketing strategy is to make its site appear just like the sites of legitimate publishers, a strategy it accomplishes quite well, for the site is slick and convincing. I never was able to determine exactly what OMICS stands for or means; the name is not explained. Perhaps it is a play on the “omics” suffix found in the names of fields of study such as genomics and proteomics ..."

Needless to say, I declined the invitation.

1 comment:

BWJones said...

Gosh... Is there *any* field those charlatans are not trying to get into? I must get a dozen OMICS group invitations some weeks. It's nuts.