Career advice

How to Avoid Predatory Conferences

3 min read · By Academic Positions

Presenting at an academic conference shares your research with a wider audience and boosts your international profile—well, a legitimate one does at least. Attending or presenting at a predatory conference can do the opposite, so it’s important to choose your conferences wisely.

What is a Predatory Conference?

A predatory conference is a conference that exists solely to make money. They are organized by commercial enterprises that have no connection to a reputable research organization/society/institute. Their titles are broad like “World Congress of the Humanities” or “International Business and Economics Conference” and they promise big-name speakers and a high abstract/paper acceptance rate. They are often held in expensive resort towns or popular tourist destinations. Predatory conferences make their money off of the conference fees they charge participants, often in combination with accommodation or a tour package.

Invitations to predatory conferences usually come in the form of unsolicited emails. The email, replete with spelling and grammatical mistakes, will play up the event’s prestige and address you in extremely flattering terms. You will be invited to give a talk, chair a session, or be a keynote speaker, often about a topic unrelated to your research. The conference will falsely claim that submissions are peer reviewed or promise an extremely short peer review process.

Warning Signs

If you’re trying to determine whether a conference invitation is predatory, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the conference in your field?
  • Does the conference appear to be a one-off event? Most credible conferences happen annually. Do some research to see if you can find any information about the previous year’s meeting.
  • Who is organizing the conference? Is it a for-profit enterprise? If so, does it have a connection to a legitimate research organization/society/institute?
  • What sort of fees are associated with attending the conference? Do the organizers try to bundle registration fees with accommodation, meals, and travel?
  • Does the conference claim that abstracts and papers will be peer reviewed?
  • Does the conference advertise a fast review time or high acceptance rate?
  • Does the conference guarantee you work will be published in the conference proceedings? Have you ever read any papers from these conference proceedings before?
  • Does the theme seem overly broad or like the organizers are trying to combine multiple fields into one event?
  • Did the email invitation come from a free email provider like Gmail?
  • Is the conference organizer organizing several other conferences this year on the same topic?

On their own, none of these factors are a guarantee that the conference is predatory. However, if you find yourself answering “yes” to several of these questions, you should proceed with caution. A good next step is to ask one of your professors or colleagues if they know of the conference or have attended it before. The conferences you attend should raise your profile and promote your research to the right audiences. Carefully evaluating a conference before deciding to submit is worth it.

By Academic Positions  ·  Published 2019-03-05
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