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Predatory Publishing: Predatory Conferences

Predatory Conferences?

With the rise of predatory behavior in the publishing industry, many predatory publishers have expanded their business models to make additional profits from fake conferences.

At a glance, these predatory conferences can seem to be legitimate and scientific based events. Be aware that these conferences are actually organized by revenue generating companies who not only exploit presenters and attendees, but also increase profits by collecting registration fees. In addition, these fake conferences do not provide adequate scholarly presentation sessions. Many academics arrive at these conferences only to discover that there are very few attendees, a limited number of actual presentations, or that multiple conferences covering a wide range of topics are combined into a single conference.

Red Flags: How to Spot a Predatory Conference

Spot predatory conferences by looking for the following red flags:

  • Conference Organizers and Sponsorship:
    • Is the conference sponsored by a professional organization or association? If so, does the organization/association website link to the conference website? (Predatory conferences have been known to claim to be sponsored by organizations/associations who actually have nothing to do with the conference.)
    • Is the conference is supported by numerous open-access journals with which you are unfamiliar?
    • Is the conference organized by a commercial or for-profit company? Predatory conferences exist solely to make money - the goal is not to advance scholarship or research.
    • Do you recognize the people on advisory boards or conference organizing committees? Did these people actually agree to serve in this capacity? Many fake conferences claim that respected people in a specific field are on these committees, when in reality, these individuals never agreed to be on these committees.
    • Are the names of the people who own or control the organization provided? 
  • Aim & Scope:
    • ​Are conference topics focused on your specific field? Are the aim and scope are too broad? Often topics are extremely broad and lack focus on a specific discipline.
    • Are generic, broad terms such as "to promote scientific innovation" used in describing the purpose of the conference?
  • Agenda & Editorial Committee:
    • Are session topics relevant to your field?
    • Have you heard of the keynote speakers?
    • Is the Editorial Committee listed on the conference website? Have you heard of the Editorial Committee members before?
  • Conference Location:
    • Can you easily identify the conference venue?
    • Is the conference one of many conferences on various topics? Is the conference held at multiple locations? Predatory conferences organizers often operate multiple "conferences" on the same date in the same location.
    • Is the same conference offered numerous times a year in a variety of different cities?
  • Poorly Organized:
    • Are the conference materials and website poorly organized?
  • Website:
    • Does the website look professional and reputable? Does it have good spelling and grammar?
    • ​Is the conference website is unclear or misleading?
    • Are technical terms spelled correctly? 
    • Are the themes current for your field?
    • Are conference proceedings from previous years available? If so, do the sessions, papers, and materials look like what you expect from a professional conference?
    • Is contact information available (including e-mail, phone, and physical address)? Be wary of websites that only provide a web form for contact and questions. 
    • Are there multiple presentations by a single person at a single conference? 
  • Invitation:
    • ​Did you receive invitation to present at or attend the conference via email? Did the email have with poor grammar, incorrect spelling, or awkward language? 
    • Was the invitation filled with flattery? Are you referred to as a "prominent," "eminent," or "world-class scholar?"
  • Reputation:
    • Is the conference well known in your field? 
    • Have your colleagues have never heard of or attended this conference? 
    • Do conference papers get published in predatory journals? Do committee organizers, keynote speakers, or presenters have connections with predatory journals?
  • Peer Review Process:
    • ​Is there a peer review process for submitted papers and presentations? Is this peer review process clearly outlined and explained on the website? Predatory conferences rarely have legitimate peer review processes.
    • Does the conference promise quick acceptance of conference papers or abstracts? Some conferences accept abstracts in as little as 24 hours time. Legitimate peer-review of submitted abstracts and papers cannot be completed in a 24 hour time period.
    • Is the peer-review independent? Or does the conference organizer, owner, or employees review submissions?
    • Have fake papers (machine-generated or "sting" papers) been accepted to past conferences?
  • Conference Fees:
    • Are conference fees similar to other conference fees? Are the fees higher than other conferences?
    • Do presenters pay more than attendees?

Think, Check, Attend

Additional Resources

Additional Help

For additional help, contact Ruth Bueter, Serials Librarian at 202-994-9756 or rbueter@gwu.edu.

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