By Jeffrey Beall and Richard Levine
Previous blog posts have described and documented examples of OMICS Group’s unethical practices, including sending personal invitations to potential authors to submit manuscripts without informing them of the author fees, only to invoice them after their papers get quickly accepted. This was also reported in an article published by the Chronicle of Higher Education called “‘Predatory’ Online Journals Lure Scholars Who Are Eager to Publish.”
Now new evidence has surfaced revealing that OMICS, which is also in the business of organizing scientific conferences, has been 1) using the names of scientists, oftentimes without their permission, to invite participants to their meetings, 2) promoting their meetings by giving them names that are deceptively similar to other well-established meetings that have been held for years by scientific societies, and 3) refusing to refund registration fees, even if their meetings are cancelled.
First, OMICS implies that its editorial board members are conference organizers by placing their names and photographs on their conference web pages, and by sending email invitations to their meetings which are “signed” by members of the editorial boards. However, many of these people never agreed to be meeting organizers, and some have never even agreed to be become OMICS editorial board members.
For example, one scientist who does not wish to be named wrote the following to OMICS:
“I have requested/demanded resignation from this Editorial board several times, via emails and phone calls. I have also been promised that my name would be pulled off the Editorial Board and all forms of events associated with OMICS. I am extremely disappointed and outraged to learn that you still list me as a member. Here, I request again, take an immediate action to remove my name from the editorial board!”
Finally, after several phone calls, the scientist’s name was removed and she was assured that it would no longer be used. However, just four days later OMICS sent email invitations to one of their meetings which included her name as one of the signers, implying the invitation came from her and other editorial board members.
Second, the web pages for OMICS meetings list names and photographs of their “Organizing Committee Members,” but many of the scientists that appear on these pages never agreed to be participants, and some were reportedly shocked to see themselves represented as such. One scientist, who was surprised to see that OMICS had posted his name and photo on their website, along with other “organizers,” determined that OMICS did so after a colleague had mistakenly submitted a presentation to an OMICS meeting. After the submission was received, OMICS presented both of them as meeting organizers without their knowledge.
Next, OMICS intentionally gives its conferences names that are similar to the names of longstanding, authentic conferences held by scientific societies. For example, OMICS uses the name Entomology-2013 for one of its conferences, the same name (minus the hyphen) that the Entomological Society of America (ESA) uses for its annual meeting. Moreover, ESA plans to host the International Congress of Entomology (ICE) in 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Coincidentally (or not?), OMICS uses a very similar name, the “International Conference of Entomology,” for its meeting, also to be held in Orlando.
This has led to obvious confusion among entomologists, some of whom believe they are participating with ESA meetings after receiving solicitations from OMICS. The scientists mentioned above, who were listed as OMICS organizers without their permission, wrote in an email:
“I think we were duped into thinking this was the ICE meetings. Dr. [XXX] in Switzerland asked me to co-host a session so I think this is where it originated from … Dr. [XXX], I suggest you look at the links below and you will see that we were indeed duped. The folks who contacted you about a session in FL in 2013 are NOT associated with ICE.”
Sometimes OMICS improbably organizes multiple conferences at the same hotel at the same time. For example, the screenshot above shows four conferences that were held simultaneously from December 3-5, 2012 at the same hotel in Philadelphia.
Also, a close look at OMICS’ conference registration policy shows that they never grant refunds for registration fees — even if they themselves cancel or postpone the conference. Instead, they grant a credit for other OMICS conferences.
We strongly recommend, in the strongest terms possible, that all scholars from all countries avoid doing business in any way with the OMICS Group. Do not submit papers. Do not agree to serve on their editorial boards. Do not register for or attend their conferences.
Also, be aware that OMICS has established a separate brand called SciTechnol that operates much the same as OMICS. OMICS may be experimenting with additional web brands designed to funnel people to the OMICS web pages.