FTC opens investigation of open access academic journals
- The Federal Trade Commission last week filed a lawsuit against the OMICS Group, alleging thousands of instances of fraudulent representation to faculty members about the rigor and peer review of its academic journals. The filing suggests that the journals allow access to anyone who pays thousands of dollars in publishing fees.
- Authors are frequently blocked from removing their work from the journals, which impedes their ability to be published in other academic collections.
- The FTC intends to pursue charges against the most flagrant offenders, instead of filing thousands of individual suits against the company. One study revealed that predatory publishers accounted for more than 400,000 published scholarly articles in 2014 alone.
This filing continues the federal government's pursuit of consumer protections in the higher ed marketplace, extending the fight for smarter buying from the student perspective of for-profit and other "financially risky" institutions, to faculty members seeking to bolster vitae with publishing credits. Both of these efforts suggest that students and faculty were being duped by false representations and high costs of service delivery.
But can these companies be fully at fault for the aggressive efforts of students and faculty to get credentialed in the marketplace? Students are taught that having a degree, regardless of where it is from, really matters. Apparently, faculty under pressure to earn tenure and promotion can be misled by the same premise. Is the problem really with predatory companies, or that companies can find easy prey produced by a broken industry?
- Inside Higher Ed Feds target predatory publishers