It is the new racket in the academia — the mushrooming of so-called research journals, which are minting money by offering easy publication of papers, written by academics who are in a hurry to embellish their biodata.
These journals send e-mails in bulk to researchers from various institutes and claim they are ‘peer-reviewed’, ‘open-access’, and promise ‘rapid publication’ and ‘international readership’.
A number of researchers confirmed having received such mails.
An academic said that instead of the time-consuming, rigorous peer reviews and stringent evaluation process followed by reputed journals, these journals publish almost every manuscript sent to them, including where the flaws are apparent.
“I was shocked when I saw two paragraphs of my research paper copied completely in a paper published in one such obscure online journal,” said a professor from PU, who had to run from pillar to post for three months to get it removed.
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“It is a fact,” said Professor R K Kohli, noted botanist and Vice-Chancellor, DAV University, Jalandhar.
“With innumerable online journals on internet, which are publishing trash in the form of research, one can expect one’s hard-worked research paper published in somebody else’s name in some unheard of journal,” said Professor Kohli.
Explained Professor Bhupinder Singh Bhoop from University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), “It is easy to get an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) to start a journal under any name, with one’s fellow researchers as editorial team members who become referees and review the paper.”
Researchers say that these journals hardly have any rejection rate. Unlike reputed journals, these journals are driven by publication fee, they mint money by asking the author to pay administrative fee for getting the paper published.
“It is a big racket, people have made it into a profitable business by luring young researchers,” said Professor Rajesh Gill, from PU’s Department of Sociology.
Most of these journals are mushrooming in subjects related to public health, nano-science, arts and education, life sciences and social sciences, because of mass readership and less quantitative facts.
The trick is to give the journal a name similar to a reputed journal, or prefix or suffix ‘international’ to make it sound grand.
“Many such international journals are brought out by people in some remote area of India,” said Professor S K Mehta, from PU’s Department of Chemistry.
Senior researchers say that in the absence of a mechanism to check quality, veracity and originality of the articles, such journals continue to flourish.
They say it is the API (academic performance index) scores, in which weightage is given to publications, for selection of lecturers in universities which is encouraging the trend, as it gives preference to quantity over quality.
“It is high time that universities took a stand and refused to accept trash from such journals while evaluating candidates,” said Professor Kohli.