Today’s post consists of two emails. One is from OMICS Publishing Group to a scientist who attended an OMICS conference, and the second is the scientist’s reply to OMICS.
Email from OMICS Publishing Group
Dear Dr. Jim,
Greetings for the day!! We are really thankful to you for your consistent support towards the conference Genetic Engineering 2013 and for efficiently managing the conference.
We would like to know your experience during the conference days. Also I would like to have your feedback for Genetic Engineering 2013 and Suggestions for the upcoming Genetic Engineering 2014.
Your Suggestion and feedback value a lot for us for further proceedings. Thank for your cooperation. Awaiting for your early response
Genetic Engineering 2013
Email to OMICS Publishing Group
Hello! I am happy to provide you my honest feedback about Genetic Engineering 2013. I hope you take my comments/suggestions to heart. If not, I will certainly never attend another OMICS meeting. Frankly, it was by far the worst, most unorganized meeting I have ever attended in my nearly 30 years as a scientist. It was a total sham of a meeting. In no particular order, here are my complaints:
1) The meeting was shortened to 2 days from 3 with no notice. We were not notified of this change in any way other than when the final program was available online, it covered only 2 days instead of 3. People came from all over the world for this meeting. They need time to make flight changes etc. Personally I drove so it wasn’t a problem, however, I did end up paying for an extra night for a room that I did not need. In these tight budget times, as a Government scientist we can only attend at most one meeting per year. To waste money on a room we did not need is inexcusable. We should be all notified in advance before the length of a meeting is changed.
2) I was asked to be on the “Organizing Committee” and was never asked my opinion on anything. The meeting was “organized” without any input from any organizing member, at least anyone that I talked to. Only 2 out of 19 listed organizing members were actually at the meeting. I even emailed one member that was not at the meeting and she told me that she never had any input on the meeting either. Why have an organizing committee if they cannot do anything? It appears you wanted us on a “committee” to look good, to make the meeting look legit.
3) The meeting is billed as a major event but it is far from it. At the “height” of the meeting, 19 people were in the room. By the second day, there were perhaps half as many. If all the supposed organizing committee members were present, we would have had twice as many attendees!
4) On the first day we had 13 scheduled talks. Of these, we ended up having only 8. The other speakers never arrived. Having nearly 40% of the speakers never arrive indicates a HUGE organizational problem. Do attendees think this is the fault of the organizing committee that never had a say in these maters? Is that why there is an organizing committee, to take the blame? I certainly fielded plenty of complaints while at the meeting. I finally found myself saying, I am not associated with OMICS. I have never seen a meeting where more than a few percent of the scheduled talks were missing. The other keynote speaker and I each gave 2 talks, so between us we gave a full 50% of the talks on the first day!
The second day was worse. Of the 10 scheduled talks, only 3 were given. A whopping 70% of no shows! Thus, the meeting actually ended at lunchtime on the second day. So a meeting that was supposed to run 3 days, was actually at most 1.5 days and that is being generous. Did we get 50% of our registration fee back? In a word, no.
5) There was no acknowledgement/apology from the OMICS organization about the poor turnout for the meeting even though the founder was there.
6) There was no real guidance from the OMICS organizers on how to run the meeting. I was tapped to moderate the meeting, which I did. However, that quickly turned into running it from start to finish with no guidance. It was only after many emails and in person questions that I figured out what was wanted. How the actual meeting proceeded seemed to be of little importance to OMICS. I feel very used.
7) What seemed more important to OMICS was presenting awards. When I arrived I had to sign a huge stack of awards. Anything from being a chairperson, to presenting a talk, to attending the meeting was grounds for an award. This seems very much like being in elementary school. A large amount of time was taken up on the first day by handing each other awards and having our pictures taken doing so. Why? I strongly suspect these photos will be used for promotion of further OMICS meetings. See all the smiling scientists! I did not attend this meeting to promote OMICS, but I strongly suspect that is what I will be doing. Why else have me sign these “awards”? OMICS wanted to have my name and affiliation associated with everything that happened at the meeting.
8) OMICS is not fully honest. Not only was this meeting much smaller than billed, shortened without notice etc, it is being advertised as a bigger success than it was. There is a report page that can be found here: http://www.omicsgroup.com/conferences/past-conference-reports/genetic-engineering-2013-past/
On this page, it shows twelve different scientists that gave “expert presentations” at “Genetic Engineering 2013”. The problem is, 3 of those scientists were not even there! This will be discussed further below but I request my picture and name be removed from that page. I do not endorse Genetic Engineering 2014 in any way. I do not want people to think that I do.
9) As one of my duties, I was asked to judge the poster presentations which I was happy to do. Near the end of lunch on the second day, Dr. Oshimura, the chair for the day stood up and announced that he had just been told that the rest of the meeting had been cancelled. Everyone still in attendance was shocked. This cancellation was because none of the afternoon speakers were present. Furthermore, he announced that the poster presentation would start immediately. There were a couple problems with this, neither of which were his fault. I know of at least two attendees that had already left the lunch room and thus did not get his announcement. They came back at the assigned poster time, 4:10, to put up their posters and found out then that the meeting was over. Thus, their posters were never judged through no fault of their own. They came all the way from Mexico to present their posters which were never viewed by anyone but a few of us that felt badly for them. When the announcement was made at lunch, I went and asked the OMICS representative, Monalisa, what I needed to do as far as judging the posters; did she have a form for it or what the procedure was. She informed me that Dr. Srinubabu Gedela already judged them! I don’t know when this happened (must have happened before lunch as we and they were in the same room and I didn’t see him.) but he 1) for certain did not see all of the posters as at least two were not up yet and 2) likely is not qualified to judge posters on genetic engineering. Again, science comes second in these “meetings”. The attendees that traveled great distances at significant cost deserve better.
I could go on and on but this is probably more time than I should waste on this already. In summary, this meeting was far too expensive for far too little meeting. It was “organized” (and I use that term loosely) with no help by an organizing committee, yet we take the blame. Many appearances are made to make it look like a fantastic meeting, but it is not. I do not wish to be a part of this meeting in the foreseeable future. Thus, please remove my picture(s) and name from this website: http://www.omicsgroup.com/conferences/past-conference-reports/genetic-engineering-2013-past/ I do not want anyone to be confused into thinking that I endorse your product. I also do not want my name and/or picture to appear on any other promotional material for any upcoming OMICS meeting. I respectfully ask that you follow my wishes. I wish to cut all ties with OMICS group.
Also, I am currently writing my resignation letter to resign from the editorial board of OMICS’ Advancements in Genetic Engineering for all of these and other reasons.
James Sawitzke Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Frederick, MD 21702
Note: Dr. Sawitzke has sent several additional emails to OMICS repeating his requests but they have not responded, and his requested action has not been taken.
By: Jeffrey Beall
Follow on Twitter
Source: Scholarly Open Access
Jim Sawitzke says:
September 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM
I have now successfully removed myself from the editorial board via a phone call, emails were ignored. I have been unsuccessful reaching anyone on the phone about the Genetic Engineering meeting.
Sept. 12, 2013
Jim Sawitzke Ph.D.
Solomon Steiner says:
November 26, 2015 at 9:52 PM
Just for everyone’s info – this massive company is run out of India, they will address you with fake names like “rebecca parker” but do not be fooled.
Scott C says:
April 11, 2016 at 7:38 AM
Indeed, I’ve had emails from Derrick Matthews, when the quality and structure of the English clearly indicates something is awry. Emails from OMICS have been added to my junk mail filter.
David Gurarie says:
September 12, 2013 at 11:04 AM
What a sham!
Lately, I send all such solicitations to spam w/o opening.
Bruce W says:
September 12, 2013 at 11:54 AM
This Omics Publishing Group recently sent an e-mail to a the lady, who is mentioned on our website as our department’s secretary, asking her to be part of the Organizing Committee for the 2014 Neurology Meeting. The exact wording:
“Basing on your expertise we would like to honor you by giving the position as an Organizing Committee Member for Neuro -2014. Also we would like to give you an opportunity of plenary speaker at this conference. As an Organizing Committee Member the privileges would include an honorable position as the chair/co-chair for the session of your interest. ”
Already a long time ago we renamed them as the Comics Publishing Group.
September 19, 2013 at 8:33 AM
that dishonors the honorable comics publishing industry.
September 12, 2013 at 11:55 AM
I really don’t see the need for all these new conference-organizing services. Small conferences (up to 100 attendees, say) are best organized at your own university/research institution, or at a venue in your geographical area. Then there are plenty of well-established conference centers, e.g. Banff. And finally there are the big recurrent meetings organized by scientific societies.
I believe all other organisations are just after your grant money.
Hope Leman (@hleman) says:
September 12, 2013 at 1:49 PM
We all owe a great deal to Jeffrey Beall and Dr. Sawitzke for this expose. It was fascinating reading–and very shocking to see scientists being treated so shabbily. Thank you both for such a detailed, absorbing, damning report.
Ron Davis says:
September 13, 2013 at 4:52 AM
Mr. Beall, I am happy to see a new watchdog like, Thomson Reuters, Scopus’s SCImago, during my online search for reliable sources. I am happy that this market is growing. They are offering SNIP indicator. Please visit http://www.journalindicators.com/
September 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Scopus’s SCImago is far better than Thomson Reuters since it is available for all users to verify the quality of a journal. These days, many Predatory journals establish a link with ISI and claim they are ISI index and many authors may accept their claims. Scopus’s SCImago cannot be manupulated and it is better than ISI.
Sylvain Bernès says:
September 13, 2013 at 8:30 AM
OMICs did a single mistake: to ask to Dr Sawitzke for feedback about the meeting.
September 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM
TL/DR – Gullible career lab tech’ in protected government job is angry because he got taken for the fool he probably is.
What the hell is an NCI scientist doing, wasting their only meeting per year on what is widely known to be a scam? Was this guy living under a rock? Did he not do any homework about this organization? For most scientists out in the “real world”, we go to meetings run by established societies in our area of expertise. Those, and a couple of other well known conference organizing bodies (Gordon, Keystone).
This type of negative publicity is useful, to highlight these shady business practices to the <1% of academia that isn't aware of them already. But C'mon! In my opinion he got exactly what he deserved for being so gosh-darned gullible in the first place. He got his ego massaged by the invitation, and thought "this looks sweet". It's like that time the Department Chair got a computer virus, or gave the Dept. bank account details to a guy from Nigeria who seemed legit. Maybe that's why this guy is a "senior research associate" and has a grand total of 20 publications after 30 years in the biz. He'll probably also find there's all sorts of small print in the attendance contract, in which attendees agree to have their name and likeness associated with the meeting, so he's up the creek without a paddle on that front too. Wonder if this guy has an AOL email account too? Mike says: September 18, 2013 at 6:34 AM Oh mighty R3sanon, with the >20 publications (greater than Dr. Sawitzke, for sure!), we should all bow down to your dizzying intellect and sharp detection of fraud from ANY corner of the globe. Please bestow upon us more words of wisdom from your tower on high so that we “protected” minions at the NIH can learn from your astounding (probably NIH granted) research insights! LOL
October 18, 2013 at 1:27 PM
And despite Mr. Sawitzke’s request his name is mentioned several times here still: “Special heartiest thanks to the moderator of Genetic Engineering 2013, Dr. Jim Sawitzke, NIH, USA for his contribution and consistent support for making this conference a success”.
Entertaining side note I have seen at least one listed publisher link to your site as a place they are indexed. Now that is funny.