A scientist at the Delhi-based Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), a CSIR laboratory, has published nine “papers” in nine different predatory open access journals. The “papers” were published between 2013 and 2015.
Predatory journals use deception to trick authors into submitting papers, do not peer-review manuscripts thus allowing even sub-standard papers and those that contain plagiarized content and falsified and fabricated data to get published, rarely index papers with standard indexing bodies, carry impact factors (a surrogate measure of the quality of the journal) which that are not calculated by Thomson Reuters and are more focussed on the article processing fees.
Dr. Neelima Chakrabarty, Senior Principal Scientist in the Traffic Engineering and Safety Division of CRRI is the first author in most “papers” and the corresponding author in a few. During the same period, Dr. Chakrabarty had published papers in reputed Indian and international journals such as Current Science and Elsevier’s Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences.
On being alerted, CRRI has removed eight “papers” from its website.Kamini Gupta, Senior Technical Officer in the Traffic Engineering and Safety Division is a co-author in most of the “papers”.
“My research works are original and authentic, there is no copy of another work piece is available anywhere (sic),” Dr. Chakrabarty says in an email to me.
“These journals are among the worst of the very worst. They are clearly predatory. Very little experience is required to determine that these are counterfeit journals, journals that all honest researchers should have the ability to recognize and avoid,” Prof. Jeffrey Beall, Scholarly Communications Librarian at Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver says in email to me. Except one, the remaining eight “journals” have been listed in Prof. Beall’s blog. Prof. Beall first coined the term ‘predatory journal’ and has been raising awareness about such journals.
“I am privy to this problem from day one. I have discussed the issue with scientists. I am sure that I will be able to make them realise the dangers of publishing in such journals. I have sought a clarification from Dr. Neelima on the issue.” Prof. Satish Chandra, who became the Director of CRRI in January this year, says in an email to me.
Task Force Meeting of the XII Five Plan Project was of the view that CSIR scientists and researchers should be made aware of such [predatory] journals so that they do not publish in these journals.On being alerted, CRRI has removed eight “papers” from its website. However, one “paper” published in a predatory journal is still listed on the website. Six of the seven authors of the “paper” are from NIMHANS, Bangalore. So is that the reason why the “paper” has not been taken down yet? Though a cursory glance of the publisher’s homepage gives an impression that it is a genuine journal, on closer inspection the tell-tale signs of a predatory journal become evident. The journal published from Chennai, India, had an impact factor of 6.209 in 2015, the website claims! During the same year, the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences had an impact factor of 9.423.
If the high impact factor is indeed true, why should the journal or the publisher invite reviewers? And here are the conditions listed to become a reviewer, which I reproduce verbatim:
- Should be a PhD degree holder from a recognized university.
- Should have a minimum of 15 years of experience who doesn’t have a PhD degree.
- Should be an author with a minimum of 8 publications in reputed journals.
- Should be an IJIRSET author with at least a single IJIRSET publication.
Though ArXiv.org is an e-Print archive, it has been listed as one of the archiving sites for papers published in this journal. Several other sites are mentioned, including Google!
Ignorant or willing participants?
“Has the scientist been fooled by the journals? Or is the scientist knowingly taking advantage of the easy acceptance and fast publishing process employed by these journals and publishers? There are still some people who are unaware of predatory journals and assume that all scholarly publishers are honest and genuine,” says Prof. Beall.
“Predatory journals and publishers are only part of the problem. The main problem is the low quality of research being done in [low and middle income] countries for various reasons… Good quality research done anywhere in the world can be published in high quality journals without much difficulty,” Mahesh Devnani and Anil K. Gupta from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, write in the February 2015 issue of The BMJ.
Even a high-quality paper coming from an exemplary research is rendered “valueless, unusable and illegitimate” once it is published in a predatory journal. Authors who have genuinely been unaware of the predatory nature of journals cannot submit the paper to another journal because it is already published.
“Universities need to re-examine the way they perform academic evaluation. They need to stop counting the number of one’s publications as a method for academic evaluation. This counting leads people to pay for easy publishing in predatory journals, and this, in turn, leads to a proliferation of predatory journals. The same would apply to government laboratories as well,” Prof. Beall adds.
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