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U.S. charges journal publisher with misleading authors

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Science  07 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6308, pp. 23-24
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6308.23

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Summary

In one of the first cases of its kind, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking action against a journal publisher accused of deceiving its authors. FTC is asking a federal judge to order OMICS Group Inc., the publisher of hundreds of open-access journals, to stop making false and misleading claims about its pricing, editorial staff, and peer-review practices. The agency is also asking the court to consider requiring the firm to refund authors and conference participants millions of dollars in fees. The case, now before a federal judge in Las Vegas, Nevada, is sending shock waves through the traditionally self-regulated world of technical journals. "It's a shame it's the government that has to regulate the scholarly publishing industry," says Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, who has been an outspoken critic of what he calls "predatory" publishers. At stake in the case is "the integrity of the marketplace of ideas," says Gregory Ashe, an FTC attorney in Washington, D.C. In its 25 August complaint, the agency lays out a long list of charges, among them that OMICS used researchers' names to promote journals and conferences without their permission; falsely claimed journals are indexed by PubMed, the citations database maintained by the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland; and untruthfully stated that its journals were granted independently-calculated impact factor scores (a measure of citation rates). The agency wants the judge to order OMICS to end such practices, and also to consider forcing the company to refund "ill-gotten monies."