Professors and college teachers are of the view that many journals do not disclose their credentials when they contact academicians of prominent universities for publishing their research papers or to induct them into their editorial board. So, with academicians presenting and publishing papers on numerous platforms, it was hard to weed out bogus publications.
As reported by The Indian Express, Dr Raj Kumar, the new Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, features on the editorial board of at least two such publications that figure on an international list of “predatory journals” compiled by Jeffrey Beall, former librarian at the University of Colorado.
Dr Kumar is named on the editorial board of International Journal of Engineering and Management Sciences (IJEMS) and International Journal in Management and Social Science (IJMSS). While these journals feature on Beall’s List of “predatory journals”, they do not feature on the list approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) or on any of the UGC lists for removed journals or those pending inquiry.
“The UGC should be held responsible for promoting commercialisation and mushrooming of such journals. It is difficult for a person in academics to know quality journals as many use faculty with international affiliations,” said Prof Rajat Sandhir, associate director, Research Promotion Cell, PU.
He added that the UGC has now become more cautious of such publications and has taken steps to prevent such journals to be available on its website or in universities and colleges.
“We publish and present papers at numerous places and it’s difficult to figure out the credibility of each publication. There should be a mechanism through which we can weed out bogus journals before collaborating with them,” said PU Senator Prof Ronki Ram.
He added that the only way to remove such publications from an academician’s profile was to verify them and step down from its editorial boards.
“The UGC should modify its policy for compulsory research that has made publication a great business. Sometimes, the person on the editorial board may not be aware of the exact procedure and method of publication of the journal,” said Prof Jagdish Chander Mehta, department of sociology, DAV College, Sector 10.
Student parties, on the other hand, expressed their disappointment and said it cast a shadow over the university’s reputation in the field of research.
Some student organisations had also protested when the V-C joined on July 23, questioning his selection while others said it was the “saffronisation” of the campus.
“There was such a hue and cry over the rich academic CV of PU’s new V-C. His name on the editorial board of unreliable journals has made a dent to his academic image. It raises serious questions on the appointing authority,” said Harman Deep, media in-charge, Students for Society (SFS).
The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) had staged a three-day protest after Dr Raj Kumar joined the university. Some party leaders said students needed to trust the authorities and this was not a good start.
“If the V-C is associated with such journals, he should clarify his position on the question raised and work towards creating a scientific and social atmosphere for teachers and students,” said Vani Sood, former secretary, Panjab University Campus Students’ Council.
Other campus parties such as the Students’ Federation of Panjab University (SFPU) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) said the matter should be scrutinised. Harmanjot Singh Gill, a senior ABVP leader, said the V-C should step down from the editorial boards of these journals as soon as possible.
“If Dr Raj Kumar is involved with such journals with full knowledge about them, it’s a sorry affair since journals are supposed to provide with efficient case studies and research. It is against the expectations of the most prestigious post that he holds,” said Harasees Chahal, a SFPU leader.
In a series of investigative reports starting July 19, The Indian Express reported on how India has emerged as one of the biggest markets for a business in which over 300 “predatory” publishers bring out journals that claim to be international and publish papers for a “charge” ranging from $30-$1,800 per piece.
Last week, responding to the investigation by The Indian Express, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar asked the UGC to weed out predatory and substandard journals from its list of approved journals by August 31.