Reporting by De Volkskrant published on Wednesday revealed that hundreds of Dutch researchers may have illegitimate publication and conference credits.
Dutchnews.nl reports that at least 500 academics are named in the documents, which De Volkskrant received exclusive access to through the ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The two platforms named in the ICIJ investigation are OMICS, a publishing company based in India behind more than 700 journals and “international science events”, and WASET, the World Academy of Science, which is based in Turkey.
Researchers can pay to have their work published in their journals or attend conferences that seem legitimate but turn out to be potential shortcuts for researchers to add credits to their CV. OMICS offers peer reviewed articles for download and insists that they carry out peer reviews, but the ICIJ investigation casts doubt on whether either platform actually does so.
The questionable practices of the journals prey on the pressure for academics to “publish or perish” – academic vacancies often require job applicants to have a certain number of publication credits to their name, and research funding is also frequently contingent upon publication output.
A number of professors, associate professors and other researchers from the University of Groningen or the University Medical Center Groningen are listed among speakers at conferences affiliated with OMICS. A search of the University of Groningen website listed two researchers who included WASET among their publication credits.
A search for “Groningen” on the OMICS site returns a handful of results, only some of which actually appear to be connected to researchers who work for the university or hospital. One researcher at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences was listed as a speaker at an OMICS event, but the other universities of applied sciences in the north, namely Stenden and NHL, returned no results.
None of the publications listed in the OMICS results connected to Groningen are included in list of predatory standalone journals which UMCG links to on its own pages, but WASET and OMICS International are both listed as potentially predatory publishers
University of Groningen spokesperson Jorien Bakker said that the institution does not currently have a formal response to De Volkskrant story due to limited staff presence during the summer break, “but this is not how [academic publications] are supposed to work”, Bakker says. The spokesperson pointed out texts published online through the university library and UMCG warning researchers about how to recognise unscrupulous publishers. The University of Groningen library’s page was last updated in February, and the UMCG page was updated on 3 August.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that there were no search results connected to the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. One researcher connected to the Hanze is listed as a speaker on the OMICS site. The story has been corrected.