Academic Publishing Smut Clyde

The Pullulating Polyps of OMICS

"Oh Stewardess, I speak Lorem Ipsum" - Smut Clyde

You thought you knew everything about OMICS, but you didn’t. Let Smut Clyde share his observations on the unusual directions this predatory publisher expanded into.

E.g., did you know that Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke and Mark Twain – they all published with OMICS?


Oh Stewardess, I speak Lorem Ipsum (journals are fungible)

By Smut Clyde

“Mobileular” has not yet been accepted by dictionaries as a word, despite efforts to popularise it by parascience publishers and peer-reviewers of negotiable virtue. The neologism was generated by synonym-spinning software, engarbling pirated text to render it impervious to plagiarism detection and to comprehension alike. It was no surprise to find it in the barrel-bottom-scrapings and citation vehicles that pad out Special Issues from journals like Multimedia Tools and Applications” and “Progress in Photovoltaics“.

From “A hybrid slime mould algorithm for global optimization” (Chakraborty et al 2022)
From “A hybrid technique employed for efficiency improvement of tandem perovskite solar cell” (Subha et al 2022)

This genre of software-generated bafflegab also occupies journal-shaped jizzmops from predatory publishers. But close inspection brings perplexity, for the signatories turn out to be fictive, or publisher employees (or both). That is, no-one is paying to waste bandwidth on these verbal hairballs, and they serve only as space-filling Lorem Ipsum.

Harken, then, to the wisdom of Titus W, from the Department of Hematology, University of California (!): published in Longdom‘s Journal of Leukemia. He may well be a character from Victorian pornography, where last names were similarly reduced to single letters… it was a tradition, or an old charter or something.

While Salivendra Suhasini writes ex cathedra gibberish from the Department of Biotechnology, Bhopal University… NO WAIT that is only in the fictional universe of OMICS journals; in the more reality-aligned world of LinkedIn, she is only a publishing assistant.

Stolen from Oglaf

All this provides the opportunity to introduce a crucial plot device. Longdom, Pulsus and the rest are not separate companies. They are the Hydra heads of a single protean entity, extruded like unholy polyps of flesh. Videlicet the Whackweedia:

OMICS Publishing Group is a predatory publisher of open access academic journals.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] It started publishing its first journal in 2008.[1] By 2015, it claimed over 700 journals, although about half of them were defunct.[10] Its subsidiaries and brands include Allied Academies, Conference Series LLC LTD, EuroSciCon LTD, Hilaris Publishing, iMedPub LTD, Longdom Publishing SL, Meetings International, Pulsus Group, Research & Reviews, SciTechnol, Trade Science Inc.[11][12][13]

Readers will require little introduction to OMICS Publishing. It is parasitic upon, but at the same time epitomises the academic-publishing paradigm-shift to author-pays Open Journals. Srinababu Gedela‘s empire of fraud was founded on his central insight that money that otherwise might be wasted on research could instead be flowing into his bank-accounts.

As a conspicuous role-model of financial success for bugger-all effort, OMICS inspired imitators. More directly, OMICS employees founded their own competing companies, realising that rather than hustling strangers all day to make money for Gedela, they could be hustling strangers all day for their own enrichment. Parasitical publishing became Hyderabad’s signature industry, drawing so much money into the city economy that bribable grateful local governments have lavished corporate welfare upon the sector to encourage even more academic fraud (infrastructure! Subsidised real-estate! The HITEC City / Cyberabad business suburb!). Still, OMICS had a commanding head-start on its rival predators and remains the Platonic archetype of the whole industry. Not many people know that it was the inspiration for two recurring antagonists in the Star Trek fictional universe, the Borg and the Ferengi.

But don’t take my word for it… attend, instead, to Prof Izet Masic, who found out the hard way that everything from OMICS is a lie, and warned people against repeating his mistake, in an Editorial for “Medical Archives“.

Now Medical Archives is hosted at eJManager – a service that provides a platform for aspirant editors, making it easier for them to operate journals (slightly upmarket from the OJS/PKP shareware service). I mention ejManager as a convenient stepping-stone to the case of AJPMPH. For this American Journal of Preventative Medicine & Public Health was also hosted there when it was founded in 2017 (devoid of American roots), as an independent attempt to batten onto the Open Journal moneyteat. Papers were even furnished with DOIs, Huzzah!

But somehow and somewhen, OMICS acquired ownership, and embedded the journal within their ‘Walsh Medical Media‘ fuckpuppet. Deeming 2017 to be too recent, the new owners retconned a fake 2015 Inaugural Issue of AJPMPH, revising the publication date on papers accordingly – almost as if the ‘integrity of the academic record’ means nothing to them. EVERYTHING FROM OMICS IS A LIE. The new owners stopped assigning DOIs (they are too busy frauding to spare time for such fripperies as ‘unique permanent identifiers’), and made no arrangement to redirect the old DOIs, leaving them pointing vaguely off into the distance.

So here is a recent AJPMPH paper, attributed to “Gilberto Vaughan”, at the Galveston campus of “University of Texas Medical Service”, claiming to have researched COVID sequelae in the UK. Gilberto doesn’t exist. The paper is surprisingly coherent for the work of a purely fictional author, but its unlooked-for lucidity is explained when we discover that it was copied from a Lancet study.

“But WHY?” you ask. The whole point of parasitical publishing is that someone else does all the work and then pays you to put the results online, however tragic and regrettable they may be. Yet some OMICS functionary went to the trouble of pilfering a text and tweaking the text here and there to make the piracy less obvious, without compensation! Even if they send the imaginary author an imaginary invoice for the publishing fee and then write off the non-payment against tax.*

In fact this happened repeatedly. An adjacent paper in AJPMPH is ascribed to ‘Jennifer Thomas’, also of Galveston and equally irreal. The text is anodyne and unoriginal, but tweaked enough that I can’t be arsed tracking down the source of the plagiarism.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Bishop has been admiring the spectacle of Prime Scholars. Someone in that branch of the scampire has a taste for classic literature; or perhaps the idea is that having debased all the institutions of scholarship, now it’s time to debase literature as well. So software compositions are variously attributed to Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Thomas Mann… all the authors of the Western Canon are eking out a posthumous post-existence on university faculties, enjoying Academia’s freedom from prejudice against deanimated faculty. And don’t get me started on the Journal of Autacoids.

Prime Scholars is a venerable institution: its stable includes British Journal of Research, with archives stretching back to 2014. This is impressive for a company that was only “incorporated on 1 July 2022“. The apparent anachronism is illusory, for journals are fungible: the British Journal of Research was under the aegis of iMedPub before OMICS relocated it, along with its venerable past, into the ambit and under the rubric (or even vice versa) of the new imprint.

In preference to founding new journals de novo, the OMICS growth strategy has been to buy out existing publishers, then to gut each acquired journal and use its skin to decorate a monetarised garbage stream. This allows customers to take out their paper-shaped press releases without smearing themselves with the OMICS stench of mendacity or letting their institutions know how low they stooped. For time has not been kind to the OMICS reputation,** and people would rather be seen buying favourable peer reviews from companies that aren’t called OMICS.

It also finesses the perennial challenge facing entrants into parasitical publishing, which is to create a fictitious past, allowing the prospective contributors to pretend that they are really working with a long-established institution. Predators seek a way to found old journals (a counterpart of the search among ornithologists for those elusive birds that build old nests).

Which is not to say that no new journals are instantiated. New titles continue to spawn, but in the sheltering camouflage of freshly-assimilated imprints.

Matt Hodgkinson brought the facts on Longdom, erstwhile Spanish publisher, which somehow became Belgian in the course of its assimilation…

Hilaris – originally Bulgarian, and the unpretentious home of Mathematica Æterna and Physica Æterna – was not too small to be safe.

The acquisitions of Allied Academies, and of Pulsus and Andrew John Publishing – two niche Canadian medical publishers – were covered in Jeffrey Beall‘s blog, and even in Canadian media. Andrew John averred that the editorial standards of the journals he signed over would be maintained, enforced by inviolable ironcast terms of the sale. Robert Kalima of Pulsus was equally confident, and look at Pulsus now:

Scientific publishing has been my life and I took great care in crafting an agreement with OMICS that would continue to protect the societies’ interests. I would not have trusted selling the name Pulsus to them if I thought otherwise.” [Robert Kalina] stated that he believed OMICS bought Pulsus in order to “start anew” as a legitimate publisher.

Brown, CMAJ 2016

Other sellers lacked John’ negotiation acumen. James Walsh is currently grumbling that the travesty of his journal still keeps possession of his name to imply that its meretricious malfeasance carries his imprimatur of approval. Dude, you pimped your labour-of-love to the whoremaster of the parascholarship demi-monde; it’s too late to complain that your reputation is being traduced.

Walsh Medical Media had been an umbrella for that single journal “Clinical Schizophrenia and Related Psychoses“. Now it shelters another 75, reassigned from other satrapies of the empire. These include six journal-shaped “Global Journal” dumpsters from the picayune grifters at “Global Institute for Research & Education” which was consumed in June 2018, so the links for those dumpsters redirected to Longdom and now to Walsh.

This “Global Institute” no longer exists even in vestigial puppet form, which is why it’s omitted from my attempt at a comprehensive list of polyps. I also left off the single-journal acquisitions of “Global Media Journal (American edition)“, “Agricultural and Biological Research“, “European Journal for Biomedical Informatics” and “Ukrainian Journal Of Ecology“.

OMICS also stoops to outright identity theft, or ‘journal hijacking’ if you like… naked brigandage stripped of all pretence of ‘legitimate business transactions’.

All this makes it easy to overlook the sheer scale of OMICS banditry and criminality, as it manifests through this My-name-is-Legion plethora of company titles. But the underlying unity of the enterprise is no secret. Pulsus, Conference Series, Prime Scholars Library Ltd, Walsh Medical Media, Open Access Journals Ltd and Scholars Central all work out of one virtual office or mail-drop service in West London – as well as sharing directors. Help-lines and contact numbers double up; the answering service can be anyone you ask for [H/t Nick Wise]

The easiest way to track the pullulating polyps is to search for Scholarscentral.org in Manuscript-Submission pages (sometimes scholarcentral.org). This is the jewel in Gedela’s crown: a central unifying manuscript-tracking / money-extraction website that provides a consistent experience of exploitation across his scampire. It also minimises the paperwork required to shift journals from one polyp to another for the sake of expedience.

It may be that the supply of bandwidth has finally exceeded demand. Perhaps I am optimistic, but this is my working hypothesis to explain the Famous Authors and the algorithmic word-pukes. Their purpose is to foster a vague impression that the OMICS organs are vibrant, sought-after communities – not ghost-towns where the only company is tumbleweeds and the distant howling of coyotes.

The low-budget tawdriness of the verbal diarrhea is the saddest part. Gedela needn’t resort to engarbled plagiarism to pad out his Potemkin periodicals. He can afford to license GPT/CHAT or some other cutting-edge generative software, and fill bandwidth with less obviously fraudy Lorem Ipsum. It’s as if his clients don’t care whether the simulacra of “real journals” are all that plausible and don’t even notice the mechanical squander.

Coincidentally, “mechanical squander” is also a keyword for Salivendra Suhasini’s Editorial at the Journal of Aquatic Pollution and Toxicology. Written in her other made-up academic role at Osmania University Department of Pharmacology.

Comparable acquisitions occurred in the domain of mockademic conferences. Gedela also deserves credit for realising early that as part of faculty remuneration, to compensate for the precarious employment and the derisory salaries, Academia is also awash with money for conference attendance (with the bonus, for administrators, that conference funding is discretionary, allowing Heads of Departments to withhold it or dole it out as reward for loyalty). Which is to say, catering to ‘academic tourism’ by staging scamferences*** is even more lucrative than parasitical publishing. Naturally Gedela inspired an ecosystem of imitators and rivals.

The scampire itself started with Conference Series, Meetings International, and umpteen others. These were augmented by the purchase of EuroSciCon / LifeSciEvent, while assimilated fuckpuppets like Hilaris and Walsh were also turned out for nominally-independent conference whoring. Pulsus became so top-heavy with conference spam that it spawned “CME Society” as a partner site, stressing the fraudulent credits and certificates for ‘continued education’ that attendees could claim.

Interviewed in 2011 by Richard Poynder, Gedela presented himself as the hero of Open Science and the savior of the Global South, wresting journals from the grasp of the European / US colonial elite and offering them to anyone who can afford his fees. The veritable Ersatz Haderach, as foretold in the prophecy! This is why any discussion of an OMICS polyp becomes a catalog of first-hand testimonials from authors in developing countries, whose research difficulties were compounded by dunning letters that offered them a choice between paying €1000 for the fait-accompli publication of their manuscript, or €500 to not have it published. Nevertheless, the “benefactor” narrative plays well in Hyderabad and with the Hindutva supremacist authoritarians who cultivate belligerent resentment of the non-Indian world as a tool for winning elections.

Gedela also presented himself in the role of a benevolent Tsar who defends researchers against the depredations of the OMICS cossacks – happy to overrule his own company policies and order the restoration of stolen money or a stolen identity, as long as the theft reaches his ears. He didn’t confirm any involvement in the fake websites that were set up to make Beall’s predatory-publisher list look like an extortion racket, but he didn’t deny it either.

Srinababu Gedela Journal for researchers who can’t research good
And who wanna learn to do other stuff good too

* OMICS pays no more tax than Amazon or Faceborg. The Government of India has waived taxes whilst granting subsidized land for the construction of new headquarters.[1]

** There was the court verdict after the FTC pressed charges, and the $50.1 million penalty, though I am unable to find any record that it was ever actually paid.

*** I nearly wrote “organising scamferences”. In practice, once the attendance fees have been trousered, the onus of commandeering a hotel broom-closet and scheduling a session is left to the attendees themselves, if they want to deliver their presentations.


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2 comments on “The Pullulating Polyps of OMICS

  1. Hinglish for cell phone is “mobile”, hence reverse double Hinglish for cellular = “mobileular”. Quite a giveaway for the origins of this drivel, and scanning for this term dredges up all sorts of dreck, including a commentary in J Spine Neurosurg Vol: 11 Issue: 2 – “Role of Cell Sensitization in Cancer Therapy.” It begins with: “Cancer is one of the most popular illnesses affecting humans during the globe.” Author is of course fictional, from the imaginary Virginia University. Where do these people find the time, and indeed gullible customers?

    Like

    • smut.clyde

      Ah yes, a SciTechnol journal (which is to say, OMICS again). Engarbled so badly that there is little hope of tracing the victim of the plagiarism.

      Like

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