UGC has made multiple efforts to put strict restrictions on clone journals. Still, faculties whose academic promotions are due publish their papers in these clone journals without knowing their authenticity and standards
Research is a significant part of higher education, and publishing a research paper is even more critical for institutionalising the significance of academics in higher education. Hence, research papers have been considered the most essential part of academics. No academics in higher education are complete without a well-written research paper with an appropriate methodology and significant paradigms. This helps every scholar, researcher, and academician to thoroughly evaluate or re-examine the subject. On November 28, 2018, University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a public notice “to stimulate and empower the Indian academia” through its quality mandate and that notice announced the establishment of a dedicated “Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics (CARE)” to fulfil this objective. Therefore, there is a need to evaluate the objectives of this initiative where it intends (i) to promote quality research, integrity and publication ethics, (ii) to promote high-quality publication, (iii) to develop research paradigms and methodology for the identification of standard journals, and (iv) to stop the predatory or dubious journals. Since then, there has been a massive academic research revolution, and an unexpected mad race for publishing research paper(s) in UGC CARE Listed Journals.
But unfortunately, these listed journals have brought many severe shifts in the publication process. The shift allows the researchers to indulge in many illegalities, such as publishing research papers in dubious journals. We now know these journals with a new form, i.e., “clone journals”. There are many instances where one can easily trace the clone of the listed journals in the academic world. Researchers publish their papers in most educational institutions (including leading universities and colleges) without knowing its worst impact. They are publishing their papers for the minimum eligibility to submit their thesis and dissertations; faculties are publishing their papers for their due promotions.
As a matter of fact, UGC has made multiple efforts to put strict restrictions on these clone journals. Still, faculties whose academic promotions are due publish their papers in these clone journals without knowing the authenticity and standards of these journals. Despite multiple and sincere efforts by CARE, it has come to public notice that many have published their papers, though sometimes intentionally, in clone journals, especially in language specification journals; for instance, foreign language journals are published multi-lingually in clone format. And many instances are also there where many publishers and editors are publishing the papers with password-protected mechanisms and publishing the papers under “multidisciplinary” despite subject-specific authorisation. This process of publishing papers in “listed journals” has also supported the idea of introducing the “clone” journals because it has been widely noticed that those in listed categories charge a huge amount for publishing a single paper.
In contrast, on the other hand, many leading listed journals are forcing the researchers to subscribe to their journals or take their lifetime membership to publish their research papers. And even after subscribing to the journals, they are taking a lot of time to publish the research papers. This time-consuming process, which is undoubtedly essential to publish any paper as a part of the peer-reviewed process, is somehow an invitation to accept the calls from the clone journals to publish the research papers. CARE regularly revisits the standards based on their set norms and parameters to halt such unacademic acts over such invitations. They have also removed many leading journals from their listed categories.
Above all, some leading journals publish research papers strictly based on ideological shifts, which is a matter of grave concern. If we are talking about the standard of academics through this consortium, we must first stop this “marketisation of academics”. Therefore, it should be the ethical concern of everyone to pursue the research with proper care, and we all need to follow the suggestions carefully and unconditionally given by the CARE to maintain the standard and integrity of research. But still, CARE also needs to understand these issues where, to some extent, the theory is a bit different from praxis and puts severe restrictions on such unacademic acts. Conclusively, we all need to work together to put restrictions over such unacademic steps not only to maintain the standard and integrity but also to protect the apt research environment and, above all, the value of the research.
(The writer is Assistant Professor in Sri Aurobindo College, University of Delhi)