One more evidence that India has a huge and growing number of predatory journal publishers comes from the India office of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Since March 2014, when the new criteria for DOAJ listing were put out, there have been about 1,600 applications from Open Access journal publishers based in India.
Of this, only 4% (74) were found to be from genuine journal publishers and accepted for inclusion in the DOAJ directory. While 18% applications are still being processed, 78% were rejected for various reasons. One of the main reasons for rejection is the predatory or dubious nature of the journals.
Desperate to give websites an air of authenticity, predatory journals try getting indexed in DOAJ and other websites. Being indexed in DOAJ makes it easy to cheat innocent researchers. The business model of predatory journal publishing is based on levying article processing charge (APC) from authors even when offering no editorial services.
The DOAJ India office receives applications from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Nearly 70% of applications come from India while the other countries account for 30%.
“Nearly 20% of journals have flashy impact factor and quick publication time, which are quick giveaways,” says Bengaluru-based Leena Shah, DOAJ Ambassador, India. “Under contact address, some journal websites do not provide any address but just a provision for comments. In many cases, we have also written to people who have been listed as reviewers to know if the journal website is genuine.”
In some cases, even when the website looks fine, DOAJ staff tend to look at papers published in the journals if they suspect the genuineness of the journal. “We are not subject experts but we use certain methods to evaluate a journal,” she says. “Assessing journal websites is not an easy process.”
“We can’t police predatory journals. Can you bring down each and every predatory journal? Instead, we can educate the academic community about the cons of publishing in predatory journals,” says Ms. Shah. “The list of approved journals put out by UGC is one way of rooting out predatory journals.”
The UGC has approved a list of 38,653 journals that are indexed in Web of Science, Scopus and Indian Citation Index. Besides this, journals covered in a selected indexing and abstracting services have been added to the UGC Approved List of Journals. In a recent letter, UGC indicated that the approved list of journals is available as a web-based database with search and browse interface. In a DOAJ blog post, Ms. Shah noted: “In March 2017, DOAJ submitted a request to UGC to include Open Access journals that are listed in DOAJ in the approved list.”
Leader in predatory journals
India not only published the most number of predatory journals, it is also home to most number researchers publishing their papers to such journals; an earlier study found that researchers in India accounted for 35 per cent of publication in bogus journals. A study published in 2016 in Current Science found researchers from national institutes such as IITs, IISERs, and CSIR, ICMR and ICAR labs publishing in such journals.
According to an October 2015 paper in the journal BMC Medicine, from a sample of 262 papers published in predatory journals, 35% of corresponding authors of were from India.