The report “On the Net, a scam of a most scholarly kind” (Sept. 27) highlights one of the biggest problems the scientific community has been facing in recent times. Bogus journals have mushroomed along with a number of journal indexing agencies. The mandatory publication of at least two scientific papers before becoming eligible to submit a PhD thesis, implemented by most universities and encouraged by the UGC, has made the issue more complicated with scholars resorting to easier ways. Objections from mentors and guides are often viewed as “harassment” by students.
Promotions of faculty members in academic and research institutions are based on the number of publications, with weightage given to “international” publications. Quality is rarely a criterion. The onus of deciding where to publish should not be left entirely to researchers. Governing bodies such as the UGC and CSIR should have a say. The easiest way of ensuring this is to list out the recognised indexing agencies and encourage publications only in journals listed therein.
The report is timely as the number of unscrupulous journals has increased tremendously in recent years. Such journals fake the name of reputed journals by adding an additional word. Many such journals exist in Asia, including India, and many researchers prefer these journals to increase the number of their publications.
In India, the publication in such journals has increased as the UGC, in order to strengthen and upgrade the quality of research in universities, has brought in a performance based appraisal system. Academic Performance Indicator scores are taken into consideration for career advancement or direct recruitment to higher academic positions. This has driven many researchers to publish in such journals. This menace can be weeded out only if the UGC comes forward to have a list of approved journals under each subject category. Or the institutions concerned should bring in regulations for publications by their faculty.