For decades, Indian university has been faring poorly on the global university rankings with not a single Indian university among the top-200 universities and only a few universities featuring in the top-500 list. This can be primarily attributed to the lack of high-quality research and journal publication by faculty members of Indian universities with increasing instances of fake journal publications by faculty members of Indian universities. According to an International Consortium of Investigative Journalist organized by over a dozen media outlets which included the Indian Express, Le Monde and the New Yorker, India is fast becoming a global hub for predatory publishing where journals can be published within a short period in lieu of a small fee.

Predatory Publishing:

Jeffrey Beall, an American library science professor, can be credited for garnering widespread attention to the fake journal racket. Beall has been maintaining and regularly maintaining a database of fake journals on his website. Although many consider this list biased, many researchers refer to Beall’s list for their research on fake journals.

India is ranked as a global leader in predatory publishing, though this is not surprising due to the massive size of the education sector in India. India has over 900 universities, over 39000 colleges, and over 10000 stand-alone institutions. According to the Academic Performance Indicator issued by the UGC in 2010, research was made mandatory for academic staff across all forms of institutions for higher education. This decision was taken without consideration of the poor infrastructural deficits within the education sector with most institutions have a poor library and research facilities. Also, the majority of the teachers employed in the educational institution have poor research skills and knowledge. This lead to a large section of the teachers to opt for the easy way out, i.e. publish fake journals.

India has headlined as one of the top sources for predatory journals even before the investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist. India has featured in multiple headlines and news reports of Indian academics publishing high volumes of fake journals.

India as the Leader in Predatory Journals:

Are things within the Indian education sector as bad as it seems or the large volume of fake journal publication can be simply due to the size of the Indian higher education sector?

Every form of research, whether qualitative or quantities have their limitations and findings of these research generally come with caveats. For instance, a research study undertaken by Moher and his team was limited to academic journals in the field of biomedicine. Further, another research study undertaken by Shen and Bjork, which covered and examined 613 journals among the 11000 fake journals mentioned on Beall’s list, the researchers themselves noted that the sampling method for the research was highly complex. The authors further stated that these results should not be treated as absolute, but as rough estimates, indicating the overall magnitude of publishing fake journals and its central aspects.

Also, another study on fake journals published in November 2018 and authored by Selcuk Demir, too indicated the limitations of his search due to the limited sample size. Nonetheless, Demir’s findings heavily implicated Indian academics. To curb this menace, the UGC is preparing a list of legitimate academic journals in an attempt to curb publication of fake journals. This attempt can be described clumsily at its best and with Indians contributing to the high volume of fake journals been published, it leaves a bad reputation and a fractured legacy for the Indian higher education sector, which can be difficult to reposition by a future generation of Indian researchers.