In the world of scientific research, they are pernicious impostors. Predatory journals, online publications with officially sounding names, publish virtually anything, even gibberish, that a university researcher submits – for a fee.

Critics have long argued that these journals erode scientific credibility and waste money on subsidies. Academics must publish research to advance their careers, and the number of questionable outlets has exploded.

The Federal Trade Commission intervened, announcing Wednesday that it had won a $ 50 million judgment against Omics International Hyderabad, India, and its owner, Srinubabu Gedela.

Omics publishes hundreds of journals in fields such as medicine, chemistry and engineering. He also organizes conferences. F.T.C. claimed that Omics had violated the ban on misleading marketing practices of the agency.

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In addition to the judgment, a federal judge in Nevada – where Omics dropped letters – ordered the company to cease operations. its deceptive marketing practices, including not disclosing its fees, misleading the legitimacy of its newspapers and marketing conferences with keynote speakers who have never agreed to participate.

Mr. Gedela's attorney, Kishore Vattikoti, wrote in an e-mail:

It is quite surprising to us that the court issued an order against defendants in this without asking for an unjustifiable trial and a breach of natural justice.

Image Srinubabu Gedela, founder of Omics International.

Mr. Vattikoti said that the publisher would appeal.

Gregory Ashe, lead counsel at the FTC, noted that the court had rendered summary judgment because "there are no material facts in dispute that would warrant a trial" .

Journalists' criticism hailed the decision. "This is great news," said Jeffrey Beall, a former communications librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, who has studied questionable journals. "There are hundreds of predatory publishers, but Omics is the evil empire."

Predatory publishers bewitch academics with the desire to submit papers or speak at conferences. When they receive articles, newspapers accept them and publish them immediately, with a superficial account, if any.

In return, the newspapers demand fees that they had not previously disclosed and could reach several thousand dollars. , the FTC told me. When the authors ask to withdraw their papers, they are often refused. And some academics who are described as publishers on journal websites are not actually publishers and do not even know that their names are used.

These practices contrast sharply with those of legitimate scientific journals. where editors send articles to experts for review, which can take weeks or months and often requires extensive revisions. Those who charge authors clearly publish their fees.

And no publisher is listed without his knowledge. Legitimate journals are also indexed – listed in places such as PubMed, run by the National Library of Medicine – giving them an approval stamp. Predatory journals claim to be indexed but are not, F.T.C.

Over the years, academics have followed predatory publishers with a blacklist, first published by Mr. Beall and now published anonymously. In an infiltration operation, a fictitious researcher with false references has applied himself to be editor of a list of journals. It has been enthusiastically accepted by many predatory newspapers and rejected by legitimate newspapers.

Academics often receive daily solicitations from these journals. On Wednesday, James DuBois, director of the Center for Clinical Research Ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, sent the Times an email he had just received.

"We learn that you have published an article entitled" The role of culture and acculturation in the perception of rules by researchers "in the field of science and technology. engineering ethics and we are impressed by the subject, "says the message." We therefore wish to invite you to contribute to the review of other valuable documents on related topics. "

Many emails from these are laughable, said Dr. DuBois, but they also constitute a constant irritant.And publishers are persistent. "If you ignore them, you get a follow-up even after blocking the sender" , he said.

He and others doubt that solicitations cease – publishers are usually in other countries and the business can be lucrative.

This is the huge amount of money invested in Omics q He has led the FtC to ask for a $ 50 million judgment. This is the amount that Omics deducted from its customers between August 25, 2011 and July 31, 2017, the agency said.

"The court agreed with us that their deceptive practices were so prevalent that they represented a full consumer remedy, and the court did not repress them," Ashe said.

can never collect is another question. "We will do everything in our power to locate assets in the United States," said Ashe. The agency began contacting US banks Omics, he added.

If Omics does not change his practices, the F.T.C. move newspapers offline and contact hotels or other venues where the company holds conferences.

"We will tell them," You are helping this company to break a court order, "Ashe said. said.

Some researchers doubted that the verdict could stem the flood of questionable newspapers.

Omics is "the Walmart of predatory publishers and conference organizers," said Derek Pyne, an associate professor of economics at Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia, in a post electronic.

"However, there are hundreds of small publishers. Too, I think for the F.T.C. go after. "