OMICS Publishing Group
|Parent company||OMICS Group Inc.|
|Country of origin||India|
|Publication types||Open access journals|
|Nonfiction topics||Science, technology, and medicine|
OMICS Publishing Group is a predatory publisher of open access journals in a number of academic fields. It is part of the OMICS Group, based in Hyderabad, India. It issued its first publication in 2008. According to a 2012 article in The Chronicle about 60 percent of the group's 200 journals have never actually published anything.
Academics and the United States government have questioned the validity of peer review by OMICS journals, the appropriateness of author fees and marketing, and the apparent advertising of the names of scientists as journal editors or conference speakers without their knowledge or permission. As a result, the U.S. National Institutes of Health does not accept OMICS publications for listing in PubMed Central and sent a cease-and-desist letter to OMICS in 2013, demanding that OMICS discontinue false claims of affiliation with U.S. government entities or employees. OMICS has responded to criticisms by avowing a commitment to open access publishing and threatening a prominent critic with a US$1 billion lawsuit.
OMICS Publishing Group was founded in 2007 by Srinubabu Gedela, who remains the company's director. It started its first open-access journal, the Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics, in 2008. As of 2012, OMICS Group had more than 200 journal titles, about 60% of which had no content. OMICS operates on an "author-pays" model. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, some journals that are financed by authors are legitimate, while others are vanity publishers "that accept virtually any article to collect fees from the authors." It says there is not always a clear distinction between the two. OMICS journal authors pay a publication fee of up to $3,600.
Criticism of publishing practices
OMICS is included in the "Beall's List", which documents publishers thought to likely be predatory publishers that "take advantage of academics desperate to get their work published." Many authors, faculty members and open-access advocates have "raised concerns about the practices of OMICS and the quality of its journals." They claim the journals are not actually peer-reviewed as advertised, often contain mistakes and that its fees are excessive. The company says that its activities are legitimate and ethical, but that the quality of its editorial control does need improvement.
It was also suggested that OMICS provides lists of scientists as journal editors to create the impression of familiarity or scientific legitimacy, even though these are editors in name only and are not involved in the review or editing process. An editor-in-chief who was contacted by Science stated that he had never handled any papers; in an interview with The Hindu, another said he had not been informed of his purported editorship. The company has been slow to remove the names of editorial board members who requested to terminate their relationship with OMICS activities.
Some observers have described the publisher as "predatory", insofar as authors who have submitted papers have been sent invoices after their manuscripts were accepted for publication despite the lack of a robust peer-review process. Charges may be as high as US$3,600. One author received an invoice for US$2700 after her paper was accepted; this fee was not mentioned in the email message OMICS sent her to solicit a submission. These observations have led critics to assert that the main purpose of the publisher is commercial rather than academic.
Other criticisms of OMICS include the publication of pseudoscientific articles, deceptive marketing practices, targeting of young investigators or those in lower income regions, and the advertising of academic or government scientists as speakers or organizers for OMICS conferences without their agreement. In 2012, an OMICS journal rejected a paper after the reviewer noticed it was plagiarised from a paper he had previously co-authored; another OMICS journal published the same paper later that year. The paper was removed from OMICS' website in 2014.
In 2015, OMICS started charging fees for withdrawing submitted articles.
Action by US government agency
In April 2013, OMICS received a cease-and-desist letter from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). According to the letter, OMICS claimed on its website that its papers are featured in PubMed Central, however the National Institute of Health had already told OMICS it would not accept its papers, due to "serious concerns" about its publishing practices by the National Library of Medicine. Additionally, it alleged OMICS was using images and names of employees that either no longer worked at NIH or did not provide their permission. OMICS responded by modifying its website and providing emails and letters allegedly from NIH employees. Those employees said they did not provide permission for their names to be used in marketing materials.
Legal threat to Jeffrey Beall
In 2013 OMICS Publishing Group sent a letter to Jeffrey Beall stating that they intended to sue him and were seeking $1 billion in damages. In their six-page letter, OMICS stated that Beall's blog is "ridiculous, baseless, impertinent," and "smacks of literal unprofessionalism and arrogance." Beall said that he found the letter "to be poorly written and personally threatening," and that he thought "...the letter is an attempt to detract from the enormity of OMICS's editorial practices."
OMICS' law firm said it was pursuing damages under India's Information Technology Act 2000, referring to section 66A, which makes it illegal to use a computer to publish "any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character" or to publish false information. It stated that three years in prison was a possible penalty, although a U.S. lawyer said that the threats seemed to be a "publicity stunt" that was meant to "intimidate". An editorial in the New Delhi-based India Today cited the incident as evidence that Section 66A should be discarded to eliminate its use in "stifling political dissent, crushing speech and ... enabling bullying".
- "OMICS Publishing Group :: Contact". Omicsonline.org. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- Declan Butler, "Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing", Nature, 27 March 2013
- Simpson, Richard J. (April 2008). "Editorial" (PDF). Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics 1 (1): i–ii. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Jake New (May 15, 2013). "Publisher Threatens to Sue Blogger for $1-Billion". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
- Stratford, Michael (2012-03-04). "'Predatory' Online Journals Lure Scholars Who Are Eager to Publish". Chronicle.com. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "The Charleston Advisor Update: Predatory Open-Access Scholarly Publishers". Charleston.publisher.ingentaconnect.com. 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Jocelyn Kaiser, "ScienceInsider: U.S. Government Accuses Open Access Publisher of Trademark Infringement", Science, 09 May 2013
- "On the Net, a scam of a most scholarly kind" The Hindu, 26 September 2012.
- Gina Kolata, "Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)", New York Times, 8 April 2013
- "Pharma Body meeting". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 22 Oct 2013.
- Paul Jump, "Rejected work gets back in the line-up", Times Higher Education, 7 August 2014
- Bohannon, John (2013). "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?". Science 342 (6154): 60–65. doi:10.1126/science.342.6154.60. PMID 24092725.
- OMICS Group Now Charging for Article Withdrawals
- New, Jake (15 May 2013). "Publisher Threatens to Sue Blogger for $1-Billion". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- Chappell, Bill (15 May 2013). "Publisher Threatens Librarian With $1 Billion Lawsuit". NPR. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- Rohan Venkataramakrishnan (2013-05-19). "Send Section 66A bullies home". India Today. Retrieved 2013-05-19.