If the country’s ambition of making use of the great potential of its youth to develop India into a formidable knowledge power is to be achieved, the decline in quality of faculty and infrastructure needs to be checked effectively and urgently.
The term ‘predatory journal’, coined by J. Beall nearly a decade ago, is well known to most researchers, especially in different fields of Science & Technology. It is also widely recognized that India is high on the list of countries that not only publish such journals but also in terms of the proportion of authors of research papers that populate the pages of these journals (Lakhotia, 2015). Unfortunately, many such sub-standard and fraudulent journals have found a way to get legitimacy, thanks to the ‘list of approved journals’ issued by the University Grants Commission (New Delhi). A recent analysis (Patwardhan et al, 2018) has indicated that over 88% of the non-indexed journals in the ‘university source’ component of the UGC-approved list, included on the basis of suggestions from different universities, could be predatory and/or very low quality journals. A recent blog-post and a subsequent news item has reported that the Omics group of publishers would set up a centre in Uttar Pradesh (India), following an invitation of the government, to translate articles published in their journals in Hindi and other languages in India. No one would question the importance of translation of research papers published in English in different regional languages since that is expected to reach a much larger base of researchers and others. However, the worry is that such acts, especially when promoted officially, would provide legitimacy to many journals that are predatory and of very low quality but would gain unwarranted stamp of official approval. Such negative developments need to be curbed before it is too late.
It is widely realized that the overall quality of education being imparted to country’s increasing youth population is continuing to decline. The quality of faculty is one of the significant contributory factors for the decline. The very poor infrastructure that exists in most of the colleges and universities in the country compounds this (Lakhotia, 2011, 2016). Poor quality research publications further erode the credibility of these institutions. It is widely recognized that the UGC guidelines about faculty recruitment in different universities and colleges, involving its API scoring system, is beset with many negative aspects and do not really favour meritorious aspirants. Among these, the policy about research publications and the formal recognition of a very large number of predatory/sub-standard journals by the UGC are indeed of serious concern (Lakhotia, 2017a, 2017b; Patwardhan et al 2018). In this context, it is heartening to note that the S. S. Phule Pune University has taken an initiative to identify sub-standard/predatory journals in the UGC’s approved list of journals (Patwardhan et al 2018).
The National Academies in diverse disciplines in the country need to proactively come forward to not only sensitize the community about the lurching dangers of legitimization of predatory/sub-standard research journals but also to help in development and proper implementation of sound recruitment policies. The science and other national academies in diverse disciplines with their vast pool of accomplished researchers and intellectuals should not remain indifferent but should ensure that recruitment policies in our teaching institutions are framed to promote and nurture excellence rather than mediocrity. If the country’s ambition of making use of the great potential of its youth to develop India into a formidable knowledge power is to be achieved, the decline in quality of faculty and infrastructure needs to be checked effectively and urgently.
Lakhotia S. C. (2011) How to improve the quality of teaching and research in Indian universities https://indiabioscience.org/columns/indian-scenario/how-to-improve-the-quality-of-teaching-and-research-in-indian-universities/
Lakhotia S. C. (2015) Predatory journals and academic pollution (Guest Editorial). Current Science 108: 1407-1408
Lakhotia S. C. (2016). New education policy and science & technology vision 2032 – catchy slogans to action. (Editorial) Proc Indian Natn Sci Acad 82 1163-1166. DOI: 10.16943/ptinsa/2016/48579
Lakhotia S. C. (2017a). The fraud of open access publishing. (Opinion) Proc Indian Natn Sci Acad 83: 33-36. DOI: 10.16943/ptinsa/2017/48942
Lakhotia S. C. (2017b). Mis-conceived and mis-implemented academic assessment rules underlie the scourge of predatory journals and conferences. (Editorial) Proc Indian Natn Sci Acad 83: 513-515. DOI: 10.16943/ptinsa/2017/49141
Patwardhan, S. Nagarkar, S.R. Gadre, S.C. Lakhotia, V.M. Katoch, D. Moher (2018) A critical analysis of the ‘UGC-approved list of journals’. Current Science 114: (in press)
Subhash C. Lakhotia is a Professor at Cytogenetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University.
Update (09-March-2018): The link to R Prasad’s blog-post on the translation of OMICS journal articles has been inserted.