Beware the for-profit academic journals and conferences

The NY Times had an interesting article on the rise of pseudo-scientific journals and conference organizations that basically dupe scientists into publishing, speaking at conferences or sitting on editorial boards and charge them a fee for doing so.  These journals have names very similar to well known academic journals but charge ‘page fees’ to scientists for publishing an article online, in an open-access format.  The article singles out the OMICS Publishing group, which publishes ~250 open-access “journals”, as being one of the major purveyors of these journals.  I get endless email from the OMICS journals asking me to submit papers, often from journals that appear to have nothing to do with my research area.  I also get endless emails from conferences in China asking me to give key note speeches on topics I don’t research.

An area the article did not cover, but is a potentially more troubling phenomena I have seen, is when industry groups buy the intellectual property of established but defunct journals and then turn them into mouth pieces for industry interests. A related trick is when industry groups publish a Supplement issue to a journal and use this special issue as a vehicle for industry funded studies.    The Journal presumably takes a fee (1) for publishing the Supplement issue but the editorial stance seems to be controlled by the industry group.   I recently saw a special issue in which the list of guest editors of the special issue almost exactly overlapped with the executive board of the industry group that funded the issue and the findings of the articles supported the stated positions of the industry group.

(1) A couple of years ago I helped organize a conference and when we approached established journals about publishing a special/supplemental issue based on the papers presented at the conference we found the cost was up to $50K.

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