OMICS International (formerly OMICS Publishing Group) has named Chandra Wickramasinghe editor-in-chief of its strangely-titled Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach. Wickramasinghe’s research focuses on exogenesis and is largely rejected by mainstream astronomers.
This is a clever move by OMICS International. Wickramasinghe has a following, and many of his followers are fringe scientists with money to spend on article publishing. Now they have a friendly place to submit their works to, an outlet that will essentially guarantee acceptance, create a PDF, and slap on a DOI to their out-of-this-world ideas.
Here’s a selection from Wickramasinghe’s maiden editorial in his journal:
… what everyone wants to know is whether microbial life currently exists on Mars. If the presence of water, methane and organic molecules is conceded, the existence of life will also be guaranteed by the simple fact the Mars and Earth are in close proximity within the solar system and have indeed been connected by impacts and exchanges of meteoritic rocks that would have transferred biomaterial between the planets.
This may be an example of pathological science. Peer review is supposed to filter out such pseudo-science, but the quest to earn author fees is largely wiping out this scholarly publishing function, and scholarly publishers are now in the business of merely taking orders from scholarly authors.
Chandra Wickramasinghe has claimed to find extraterrestrial life on September 10, 2013, and he then claimed to extraterrestrial life on January 24, 2015, and he claimed to find it once again here. You can find breathless news reporting of his claims in the UK tabloids the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. For his academic writing, you can go to the notorious Journal of Cosmology (on my list). To say astronomers (including Phil Plait) have debunked his nonsense many times is an understatement.
As one astronomer asked me, “With Chandra Wickramasinghe and OMICS International, what could possibly go right?”
Similar Marketing Strategy?
This reminds me of Common Ground Publishing and its journal The Inclusive Museum. Its editor-in-chief is guru-wannabe Amareswar Galla, whom Common Ground has successfully used to generate tons of revenue though the journal and a complementary series of conferences also dubbed “The Inclusive Museum.”
Common Ground (not on my list) is a clever publisher that knows how to pander to researchers and make them happy to surrender their travel funds, and it has mastered the use of faux-celebrities like Galla to generate a fortune in conference registrations.
As open-access reaches a tipping point, increasingly, the customers are scholarly authors, not academic libraries. This means that publishers are working right now on ways to attract your research funds and open-access fees.
Opening scientific publishing to junk science — and using questionable gurus to attract manuscripts and conference registrations — are just two of the marketing strategies that publishers are using.
Appendix: Spam email from Chandra Wickramasinghe for the Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach.
Greetings from Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach!
Hope our e-mail finds you well and in healthy mood.
It’s a great honor for me to consider you as potential author and invite you to contribute a manuscript for consideration and publication in forthcoming issue to be released in Journal of Astrobiology and Outreach. Your contribution is of great importance for us and it will help the journal to establish standards. We are inviting best minds in the research field for manuscript submissions.
The upcoming issue will contain a collection of papers written by authors who are leading experts in the field. We have released our new issue during the first week of October have a look at it. I am sure that would inspire you to submit your work too.
Our journal publishes almost all types of research write-ups (like Original research, Review, Case-reports, Letter to editors, Commentaries, Short communications, Research images, Video articles etc.) which are related to Astrobiology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology etc.
It would be great if you could submit at your earliest possible date.
Submit manuscript at: firstname.lastname@example.org (OR) http://www.editorialmanager.com/environsci/default.aspx
Please do let me know if you have any queries, I would be happy to assist you.
Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe
Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach