Cash for publication: Indian researchers taking fatal shortcuts

 Thursday, 15 December 2022 | Ajay Semalty


Ajay Semalty Ajay Semalty

After the plagiarism the new monster has taken the world of science research in its grip. Amid China’s ‘Cash for publication policy’ the science research is already facing a hard time in saving its integrity and reliability. In India where there is a run for publication is going for gaining maximum points in Academic Performance Indicator (API) for direct recruitments and promotions in Higher Education many Indian researchers are indulged in taking short cuts. Nowadays the authorship is on sale for various high impact research journals. The agents are offering the title of the paper in a high impact journal and the authorship prices are fixed at different price levels on the basis of first authorship, corresponding authorship and co-authorship. Once the payment is done, in a very fast mode the papers are accepted and published in a very high impact journal promised by the agent.

The fact of high-speed publication (sometimes even within 1 to 2 weeks) of articles authored by dozens of authors from different parts of the globe is very much evident. Many times, these articles of about 10 pages may have a number of authors ranging from 20-30 that too from different parts of the globe. The huge number of authors makes the so-called collaborative work which is otherwise naturally impossible especially when the contents are divided into the number of authors (sometimes it comes down to 4-5 lines per author). The papers are very cleverly drafted to pass the plagiarism check and sometimes a genuine work is put at sale for authors. The unfortunate part is that the researchers boast their wrongdoing by posting their paper’s publication information on LinkedIn and other social media platforms with the comment “What a collaboration”!

The most unfortunate thing is the unawareness among the Higher Education Institutes (HEI) which never bother about the actual contribution of the author and the possible disgrace to institutes. The HEIs are only interested in the numbers of high impact papers by their faculty members because the HEIs are also run by NAAC and NIRF. In this matter the IITs are very vigilant and no faculty members are indulged in the “Authorship at sale”.

In this aspect the step taken by UGC to exempt the mandatory requirement of publication with Ph D submission is a welcome step. This step would help the researchers to focus on the quality of research rather than the publication part. The UGC must also take the appropriate steps to stop the “Authorship at sale” or “purchased authorship” by University researchers and faculty members. This is the high time when the researchers must realize that this publication misconduct can take their academic integrity away from them and result in the complete disaster of their career at any point of time. Science research must be preserved by this dangerous practice and the trend.

(The author is an assistant professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Garhwal university and is an academic researcher listed in Stanford’s Top 2% list of Scientists.)

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