In its first concrete response to an investigation by The Indian Express on how India has emerged as one of the biggest markets for “predatory” publishers of substandard research journals, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to set up a Consortium of Academic and Research Ethics (CARE) to approve a new official list of academic publications.
Bhushan Patwardhan, who was appointed as UGC vice-chairman in September, told The Indian Express that CARE will be operational “within the next three months” to replace the existing system of approval for the official list of research journals.
The UGC has also decided to constitute a committee under Padmanabhan Balaram, former director of IISc-Bangalore, to review existing guidelines on the use of such journals in PhD approvals and recommend a new system “to promote quality in research”.
“Members of CARE will prepare lists of quality journals in their respective disciplines within a defined timeframe. These lists will be critically analysed and curated for quality by a special cell at the entrusted institution using defined criteria,” Patwardhan said.
“Finally, a dynamic ‘Reference List of Quality Journals’ will be maintained by CARE and this will be used for all academic purposes. The existing UGC-approved list of journals will remain valid till the CARE Reference List of Quality Journals is released,” he said.
According to Patwardhan, CARE’s focus will be on journals in disciplines such as social sciences, humanities, languages, arts, culture, the Indian knowledge system, etc., “where there is complete absence of standardisation of research journals at present”.
Patwardhan said CARE will be established in a Category A university and headed by the UGC vice-chairman with representatives of around 20 statutory bodies, including National Council for Educational Training and Research (NCERT), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).
In a series of investigative reports in July, The Indian Express reported on how 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.
Some of the prominent publishers featured in the investigation were OMICS, Austin, Science Domain, IAEME and IOSR Journals, which together bring out over 1,200 journals on subjects ranging from medicine to management.