Owner of Canadian medical journals publishes fake research for cash | Ottawa Citizen
The new owner of two prominent chains of Canadian medical journals is publishing fake research for cash, and pretending it is genuine.
OMICS International, based in Hyderabad, India, had a reputation as a “predatory publisher” when it bought Pulsus Group and Andrew John Publishing, two Canadian publishers of medical journals, earlier this year. Predatory journals print fake or incompetent studies to help unqualified academics pad their CVs and advance their careers.
OMICS has publicly insisted it will maintain high standards.
But now the company has published an unintelligible and heavily plagiarized piece of writing submitted by the Citizen to test its quality control.
The paper is online today in the Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics — not one of the original Canadian journals, but now jointly owned with them. And it’s awful.
OMICS claims this paper passed peer review, and presents useful insights in philosophy, when clearly it is entirely fake.
And OMICS has also added dozens of new, low-quality online journals to the Pulsus group. There’s a fisheries journal with a spelling mistake in its title and mangled English throughout, and a cognitive psychology journal that says diaper weaning is important to toddlers and “Pleasant Attitude of a Teacher” helps students to learn.
“It’s a bloody mess,” said Suzanne Kettley, executive director of Canadian Science Publishing, an independent publisher in Ottawa.
She said it’s becoming almost impossible to know which medical journals are legitimate.
“Predatory publishers are appropriating journal names and editorial boards from reputable publishers, they are purchasing publishing houses, which leaves unsuspecting medical societies to then find legitimate publishing partners, and they continue to publish fake science authored by fake researchers that has undergone absolutely no review,” Kettley said in an email.
“It’s a problem for absolutely everyone involved in scholarly publishing, placing a significant drain on journals who now have to partake in legal battles, on researchers who now have to worry about being tricked by a predatory publisher through one of their many scams, and most of all, for individuals who trust that the science they are accessing has been properly vetted.”
She compares it to the explosion of fake news stories generated by political websites.
Predatory journals charge scientists hundreds or thousands of dollars to publish each paper. They have almost no expenses since they don’t print on paper and don’t edit anything, so once they post a PDF on a website the rest is all profit. They prey heavily on junior academics, especially in developing nations.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged OMICS in August with deceiving authors through hidden charges. It calls the company “scammers.”
The leading authority on predatory publishers, Jeffrey Beall at the University of Colorado, writes that OMICS “is on a buying spree, snatching up legitimate scholarly journals and publishers, incorporating them into its mega-fleet of bogus, exploitative, and low-quality publications.”
He has now put Pulsus — formerly a respected group — on his list of journals to avoid. (Known simply as Beall’s List, it is the world’s best-known guide to fake and substandard academic publishing.)
Robert Kalina, the former publisher of Pulsus, writes on Beall’s website that this is unfair as only some of his journals were sold to OMICS. The rest went to other buyers, including Hindawi, which Beall also lists as low-quality.
The Citizen’s test submission to OMICS is mostly plagiarized from Aristotle, with every fourth or fifth word changed so that anti-plagiarism software won’t catch it.
But the result is meaningless. Some sentences don’t have verbs, and many of the new words don’t make sense — for instance, we changed Aristotle’s word “other” to “mother.” We scattered around a few modern words (such as geomorphological) but not in a way that means anything.
Beall emailed the Citizen to say: “Now you will receive invoices periodically for the rest of your life.
“PS: It takes a really good writer to be able to write such awful prose!”
He’s right about the awful prose. For example: “Everything that is done by reasons which ethicists now call ‘ketterance’ is not voluntary; it is only what produces aridity that is severe.” (Ketterance isn’t even a word. Aridity means dryness — no connection to ethics.)
And: “It is sill (sic) to make geomorphological circumstances responsible, and not one’s own, and to claim responsibility for proper acts but the also the good objects responsible for geomorphological acts.” OMICS leaves all typos intact.
Other published work in the same OMICS journal doesn’t appear much better. One is a case study of a “trembled” patient — with no hint of what this means. Another paper debates whether a hospital doctor who killed a little Pakistani girl with a massive drug error was right or wrong to conceal the error and tell her parents that she died of a poisonous insect bite.
OMICS said early Monday it would reply to questions from the Citizen by early Tuesday, but hadn’t done so by day’s end. The company claims to publish 700 online journals.