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Publishing

US court fines publisher OMICS International $50 million for deceptive practices

Company must also disclose journal fees and get consent from researchers to list them as affiliated with journals or conferences

by Dalmeet Singh Chawla, special to C&EN
April 12, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 15

A Nevada district court has ordered OMICS International, a scholarly publishing company based in India, to pay the US government $50.1 million for deceptive practices.

In 2016, the US Federal Trade Commission filed suit against the companies OMICS Group, iMedPub, and Conference Series—all part of OMICS International—and their founder and owner, Srinubabu Gedela. The FTC alleged that the organization, which boasts publishing more than 700 scholarly journals and hosting over 3,000 conferences annually, falsely advertised that its journals carry out a solid peer review and have prominent researchers on its editorial boards. Out of 69,000 articles the FTC analyzed, only 49% appeared to have gone through any sort of peer review, the agency says.

In late 2017, the court had granted a preliminary injunction against the companies to halt the deceptive practices, but the Ottawa Citizen reports that OMICS is still marketing conferences, with 18 meetings slated to take place in Toronto and Montreal this month alone.

On March 29, Judge Gloria Navarro ruled in favor of the FTC, saying that OMICS had misled thousands of researchers who published in its journals and attended its conferences. The court also ordered OMICS to accurately represent its journal fees and policies and to get consent from researchers before listing them as editorial board members, peer reviewers, and conference participants.

“Collecting a judgment against a company located outside the United States will not be without its difficulties,” an FTC spokesperson tells C&EN. “The FTC will use all legal resources available to it to collect as much of the judgment as possible.”

Kishore Vattikoti, Gedela’s attorney, has told the media his client will appeal the decision.

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