Injunction against Hyderabad’s OMICS to stop ‘deceptive practices’

Srinubabu Gedela

Srinubabu Gedela

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has won the first court battle against the Hyderabad-based OMICS Group, which publishes over 700 journals. A federal district court in the District of Nevada granted a preliminary injunction temporarily halting the deceptive business practices of OMICS. The FTC had charged OMICS with making false claims about their journals and academic conferences.

The “preliminary injunction prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations regarding their academic journals and conferences, including that specific persons are editors of their journals or have agreed to participate in their conferences. It also prohibits the defendants from falsely representing that their journals engage in peer review, that their journals are included in any academic journal indexing service, or any measurement of the extent to which their journals are cited. It also requires that the defendants clearly and conspicuously disclose all costs associated with submitting or publishing articles in their journals”.

The lawsuit

The lawsuit against OMICS Group and Chief Executive Officer Srinubabu Gedela was filed in August 2016 accusing the defendants of deceptive business practices.

The FTC had alleged that the defendants deceptively claimed that their journals provide authors with rigorous peer review and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics. In fact, however, many articles are published with little or no peer reviewing and many individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals.

The FTC also alleged that the defendants seldom tell authors about publishing fees, which is significantly high, and once submitted, OMICS does not allow authors to withdraw their manuscripts. This makes it nearly impossible to submit to other respected journals for publication. The FTC also alleged that there were misleading claims made by OMICS about impact factor and indexing in PubMed.

“Papers published in OMICS journals are peer reviewed as per international standards,” claims Mr. Gedela in an email to The Hindu. But contrary to his claims, a couple of sting operations have revealed how poor or non-existent the peer-reviewing process is for papers published in OMICS journals.

“The Court ordered [that] if OMICS is following any deceptive practice identified by FTC then OMICS should stop that deceptive practice. But as communicated [to you over phone], FTC has failed to prove any allegations or deceptive practice of OMICS even during two years’ of their investigation. We are not misrepresenting anything,” he claims. “In my opinion, the FTC team is trying its level best to support its stand as it has become a prestige issue.”

In response to a question by The Hindu that OMICS has been ordered to remove all misleading claims from its websites Mr. Gedela says: “Yes, Court [has given a] preliminary injection order to remove any misrepresentation or misleading claims. OMICS is following that and not [putting out] any misleading information or claims.”

Peer regard

Mr. Gedela claims that PubMed is restricted to the U.S. “There are so many indexing databases for different countries and for different subjects,” he says. Unfortunately, the indexing databases that Mr. Gedela is referring to such as the Index Copernicus is treated with scorn by the scientific community.

“The lawsuit and judge’s order were not an attempt to regulate the journals or conferences themselves. We want to make clear that this has nothing to do with the content. Nothing in this order goes to what they can or can’t publish in terms of content. This is about how they are soliciting would-be academics to publish in their journals,” Gregory Ashe, a senior attorney for the FTC’s division of financial practices told Retraction Watch.

“The intention behind the preliminary injunction is to stop misrepresentation and to get the required information from us. It is not to halt any of our operations in the United States,” Mr. Kishore Vattikoti, Senior legal counsel for OMICS International said in an email to The Hindu.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 3:13:27 am |