Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences

Predatory Conferences

Predatory conferences.

Here’s a draft of a criteria for identifying predatory conferences. The draft was written by James McCrostie, a full-time Associate Professor and part-time journalist in Japan who has written about such conferences.

The draft is pasted in below and also available here as a PDF file. If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave them below as a comment or email me or James at mccrostiej@yahoo.com.

 

Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences

Any academic with an email spam folder realizes that the problem of predatory conferences continues to grow at an alarming rate. Predatory conferences are for-profit, low-quality academic meetings that exploit researchers’ need to share and present their research.

The overall conference experience often suffers at predatory conferences. However, not all predatory conference organizers are small, fly-by-night operations working out of third world countries. Predatory conference organizers want to make as much money as possible and there’s more money to be made by offering a decently organized conference. Therefore a polished conference experience shouldn’t automatically qualify a conference as legitimate and non-predatory. A well-run conference allowing low-quality research to get presented alongside that of research from famous keynote speakers and honest academics in order to maximize revenues remains predatory.

Given the rise in the number of predatory conferences and the increasingly sophisticated organizations selling them, I believe it has become necessary to develop a set of criteria to identify predatory conferences.

Drawing partly on the document “Recommended Practices to Ensure Technical Conference Content Quality”, originally presented by Gordon MacPherson at the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, June 2, 2015, I propose the following checklist to classify a conference as predatory.

Criteria for Determining Predatory Conferences

1) Any use of deceit automatically labels a conference organizer as predatory.

  1. Claiming to be a non-profit when the organizer is a for-profit company.
  2. Hiding or obscuring relationships with for-profit partner companies.
  3. Falsely claiming the involvement of people on advisory boards or organizing committees.
  4. Falsely claiming universities or other organizations as partners or sponsors.
  5. Listing addresses or phone numbers that are nonexistent or false.
  6. Using organization names that imply they are based in one country or region when in fact they operate out of a different country or region.
  7. A lack of transparency by using fake names to hide the identity of organizers or their country of origin. Failing to list the names of individuals owning or controlling the organization.
  8. Organizers falsely claiming academic positions or academic qualifications.

2) Inadequate peer review.

  1. a) No peer review takes place or a single reader reviews submissions.
  2. b) Peer review is not independent; the conference organizer, owner, or employees review submissions.
  3. c) Peer reviewers read abstracts or papers in a subject matter outside their field or lack credentials or experience to do so.
  4. d) Vetting of peer reviewers is absent or inadequate.
  5. e) Machine-generated or other “sting” abstracts or papers get accepted.

3) Other criteria common to predatory conferences.

High fees.

  1. a) The conference fee is higher than typical in the field.
  2. b) Presenters pay more than attendees.

The conference is overly broad in scope.

  1. a) The organizer simultaneously holds multiple conferences at the same time and place.
  2. b) The same conference is held multiple times a year in different cities.
  3. c) A single organization holds conferences in very different fields.

Fast acceptance of submissions.

  1. a) Submitted abstracts or papers receive acceptance within a week.
  2. b) Submitted abstracts receive acceptance before the Call for Papers has closed.

Regular extensions to the Call for Papers submission deadline or accepting papers after the deadline passed.

Connections to other predatory conferences or journals.

  1. a) Conference papers get funneled to known or suspected predatory journals.
  2. b) Presenters, session chairs, keynote speakers, or conference proceeding editors have connections to other predatory conferences or journals.

Virtual Presentations

  1. a) Acceptance of virtual presentations that are not presented to an audience.
  2. b) Papers presented as a virtual presentation are included in conference proceedings without being identified as such.
  • Awarding best paper prizes before the end of the conference, awarding multiple “best paper” prizes.
  • Regularly accepting papers by undergraduates.
  • Using undergraduate or Master’s students as peer reviewers.
  • The conference gets marketed as a holiday. Conference websites and emails resemble travel brochures rather than conference notices.
  • Using the term “international” in the organization name or conference title when the conference organizers and/or attendees overwhelmingly come from a single country.
  • The conference organizer publishes journals that consist primarily of conference papers, especially if papers get published twice in the journal and the official conference proceedings without major revisions.
  •  The organizer promises that papers will be published in unnamed journals that are indexed in ISI, SCOPUS, or some other commonly-used whitelist.
  •  There is no attempt to digitally preserve conference proceedings or make them available.
  •  The organizer regularly sends spam emails to people outside the field of the conference.
  •  There are insufficient contact details. Or the headquarters location is obscured by using P.O. boxes or virtual offices. Or the listed office is in reality a private home.
  •  The name of the person registering the organization or its conference websites is hidden.
  •  Conferences are regularly cancelled or conference venues changed on short notice.
  •  Conference dinners or associated tours are offered at a profit.
  •  Listing the names of “supported” organizations when no support is actually given.
  •  The name of the conference matches or nearly matches the name of an established, respected conference.
  •  Organizers create a “society”, “association” or “institute” and name it as the sponsor or organizer of the conference.
  •  Conference websites contain spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, or unnatural English.
  •  One person is allowed to make multiple presentations to a single conference.
  •  There is no limit placed on the number of presenters for a single paper.

 

104 Responses to Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences

  1. prosario2000 says:

    Hi Mr. Beall:

    One question. I know that when you deal with predatory journals, you deal exclusively with fake open access “academic” journals. My question is if when you describe predatory conferences, will it exclusively deal with those established as predatory open access publishers (as you define them) or will the description include those that don’t necessarily publish open access fake academic journals?

  2. Ahmad Hassanat says:

    If computers could learn these rules (and it is doable), then Jeff will relax for a while.

  3. Wim Crusio says:

    Sorely needed! Well thought out criteria. Some might occasionally apply to serious meetings, but together these criteria should enable people to identify bogus (or just plain bad) conferences. Sometimes the organizers are so inept that their invitation emails give them away. Yesterday I received an invitation to be a plenary speaker at some World Congress of Genetics, proudly boasting that last year they had “over 100 participants”! Right. For the whole field of genetics…I usually reply with a gushing email, happily accepting the honorable invitation, specifying that “surely you know my standard conditions: a speaker’s fee of $1000 (payable in advance), a return plane ticket (business class), and a suite in a 5-star hotel for the duration of the meeting”. Alas, so far none have contacted me back…

  4. Jeffrey Boore says:

    A lot of this makes sense, but I do not understand the emphasis on lacking peer review. I have been to 124 scientific conferences so far (what a vain aspect of being a scientist that we keep such lists!), almost all very mainstream, and I’ve seldom seen review of any kind for contributed talks and it almost never occurs for poster presentations. I am a molecular and evolutionary biologist, and I suppose that this varies a lot among sub-disciplines.

    • Wim Crusio says:

      Yes, this is indeed discipline specific. In my field (neuroscience and neurobehavioral genetics more in particular) peer review (beyond the bare minimum, like scope and such) is quite rare, too. But of course these criteria should not be applied blindly. Many years ago I founded a new society. In the early years, no membership fee was raised. When I organized the first few meetings, registration fees had to be paid by personal check made out to me. When the fledgling society took off, it was incorporated and I transfered the funds left over from those meetings to their account. So even such a red flag as having to pay into a personal account may be harmless. But applied with some background knowledge, these criteria can be really helpful.

      • James McCrostie says:

        I appreciate the comment.

        The reason I placed a strong emphasis on peer review is: a)The “Recommended Practices to Ensure Technical Conference Content Quality” stressed the need for independent and qualified reviewers.
        b) Most of the predatory conferences I’ve looked at claim to perform peer review. Typically however it seems to be done by conference organizer employees or by unvetted reviewers.

  5. L_C says:

    Hmm… I’d also be skeptical about where your conference payment is sent (e.g., conference chair’s personal bank account, random foreign bank, etc.), or to whom you’re sending it. I’m not partial to wire transfers sent to foreign bank accounts in the names of organizations and editors/conference chairs when I can’t locate legitimate information on them.

  6. quiquelps says:

    I think that, as with syndromes, we need to set a minimal number of met criteria required to consider a meeting as predatory. There are mainstream legitimate conferences that meet some (but not all, indeed) of these criteria.

    • James McCrostie says:

      I agree some legitimate conferences might have a few criteria apply to them. And there are few predatory conferences that would meet every single criteria on the list.

      What do readers think is a fair minimum number of criteria to qualify as predatory?

  7. The bullet point “One person is allowed to make multiple presentations to a single conference.” needs to be rewritten. There are at least two reasons for that:
    1) It can happen that several employees of the same department submit papers to the same conference, papers get accepted and all but one get stomach flu or other disease or poisoning. So, the only healthy person should be allowed to substitute his/her colleagues at the conference and collect feedback for them. So, it should not be about presentations but rather about the number of accepted papers from one author.
    2) There should be a reasonable threshold instead of the fuzzy term “multiple”. A top information systems conference I know allows up to 3 accepted papers (it is possible to submit more but then the author needs to pick 3). So the threshold should be at least 4.

    • Thank you for this helpful comment.

    • Jeffrey Boore says:

      I don’t really even see that as a relevant criterion if you’re counting co-authorship. I have often had multiple graduate students and postdocs presenting work that included my name as an author, and I think this is fairly common.

      • James McCrostie says:

        Thank you for your suggestion. I included it as a criteria because I noticed some conferences had the same person making several presentations, with some conferences even giving small discounts for multiple presentations. I suppose this is another item that different disciplines will have different rules.

    • Barry says:

      In my field (Applied Linguistics) most conferences specify that you can only be the first author in one presentation and the co-author of either 1 or 2.

      • Jeffrey Boore says:

        At meetings of molecular biologists, genome scientists, and evolutionary biologists (the ones I’d go to), that policy would be devastating and I’d never attend any meeting that had such restrictions. It is common for a very successful lab to have 15 or 20 graduate students and postdocs and for many to go to some of the bigger science meetings (such as the Cell Biology Meeting, at which there will be thousands of presentations) and for all presentations to include the lab director as an author. If I were limited to being an author on only one or two presentations, it would greatly and unfairly limit the ability of those in my lab to participate.

  8. imohacsi says:

    I would also add unusually exotic locations to the criteria, without any professional reason (i.e. no related universities or institutes). I sincerely doubt, that a tropical island or an all-year ski paradise is the best place for serious scientific debates.

    • Derek says:

      In the same vain, you might want check out International Interdisciplinary Business-Economics conferences. I continually get emails from them about conferences they regularly organized on a cruise ship leaving Florida. That seems suspicious to me. On the other hand, they also publish a journal and I can confirm that they seemed to have accepted my recommendation not to publish a paper I reviewed for them.

    • Jeffrey Boore says:

      I don’t think that this, either, is a very reliable criterion. The long-standing, well-established Keystone Meeting series includes venues like the Granlibakken Ski Lodge and the American Malacology Society once held its annual meeting on a cruise ship. The Pacific Biocomputing Symposium is held at a resort in Hawaii. The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds International Conferences are held in Titisee, Germany. All are very respectable scientific meetings.

    • David Taylor says:

      I hope I am not too late to comment on this issue — medical conferences have a long history of being held in attractive locales, often tropical or touristy. Participants don’t spend 24 (or even 18) hours a day in “serious scientific debates” and can usually afford the extra-curricular attractions. CME conferences are notorious in this regard: spend a morning learning about new stent techniques, the rest of the day at the Caribbean beach!

  9. faizukm says:

    Halo mr bell, I Wanto to know how about this conference?
    http://www.icmbm.org/cfp.html

    And this conference

    http://www.kimba.ku.ac.th/icabr2016/callpaper.html

    Thank you

    • I think they’re both questionable. The second one, to be held at a beach resort, is more like a vacation package than a scholarly conference. Try finding conferences organized by non-profit scholarly societies.

  10. David Stern says:

    Yes, there is little or no peer review at many of the conferences I have been (geography, economics) to. I find conferences that do do peer review, to be a bit annoying.

    • James McCrostie says:

      By peer review I mean abstracts submitted to a conference undergo a system of peer review to select which abstracts get accepted for presentation at the conference.

      Are you saying proposals to geography and economics conferences don’t get reviewed and every submitted proposal gets accepted?

      • Wim Crusio says:

        Many meetings I go to, that is indeed the case. The number of slots for oral presentations will be limited and those will be selected by the program committee. Anything else will be vetted for 2 things: obvious ethical violations (animal use, informed consent, etc) and whether something really is out of scope. Being rejected on those grounds is exceedingly rare. All these abstracts are then accepted for poster presentation. In rare occasions, meetings have only limited space for posters, too, in which case the selection is on a first-come-first-served basis. My field is neuroscience and animal behavior genetics.

      • Jeffrey Boore says:

        The situation in my field is exactly as Wim Crusio says. Some meetings have thousands of poster presentations and there is essentially no vetting at all of those unless space is an issue. At the Cell Biology meetings, for example, there are enormous rooms full of posters that change twice per day throughout the meeting.

  11. […] Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences Jeffrey Beall […]

  12. Derek says:

    Just a suggestion for a minor clarification of “Regularly accepting papers by undergraduates”. It is becoming increasing popular for universities to try to give undergraduates research experience by organizing “undergraduate conferences” for students to present their research at. In the past, I have been roped into assisting at one my university organizes annually. Regardless of the usefulness of such conferences, I assume you don’t mean to include them as predatory conferences.

    • James McCrostie says:

      I wasn’t targeting Undergraduate Colloquia by that criteria. One would hope they aren’t being held to make a profit.

      However, several predatory conferences I’ve looked at had undergrads presenting at the same conference as tenured professors, bringing down the level of presentations and discussion.

      I’ve heard of other predatory conferences that encourage undergrad presentations.

      • Richard says:

        In my experience (US) undergraduate sessions are becoming more common, but of course more seasoned guys like myself are understanding of the noble aims behind this, even if it can be testing at times. These sessions are usually clearly signposted however.

        As for the tenured professors, a lot too much is made of hierarchy in the academy. I may be a tenured professor now, but I often enjoy interacting with the post-grad/PhD students at conferences. Just because you don’t have your PhD yet, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be heard.

        As for “bringing down” the level of presentations or discussion, I know a fair few tenured professors who could learn a few things from their students!

  13. Sudesh Kumar says:

    The journal Case Reports in Medicine (from HINDAWI Publishing Corporation) published a paper titled “Repair of Postoperative Abdominal Hernia in a Child with Congenital Omphalocele Using Porcine Dermal Matrix” (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/crim/2016/1828751/)

    This paper should have been transferred to/published in Case Reports in Surgery (also from HINDAWI) NOT in Case Reports in Medicine.

    It appear that Hindawi is not making any distinction in subject/specialty of the journals. Do we expect to see a geography paper in a medical science journal next?

  14. Jonathan O'Donnell says:

    This is a great start towards addressing an important issue.

    As they are written, these are criteria for identifying predatory peer review conferences. If you want them to apply to all academic conferences then I suggest that you change the peer review criteria to talk about fraudulent claims of peer review.

    At the moment it isn’t clear whether a conference is predatory if it fails one test; or they won’t be classed as predatory unless they fail all the criteria. There are a couple of ways you could deal with this:
    + As suggested, set a minimum number of criteria as a test. Conferences that fail that number or more tests are predatory. Two issues here: (1) The big organisations will limbo under the number and then argue they aren’t predatory; (2) unless you make it a percentage, you’ll have to argue about the number every time you add a criteria, and that discussion will effectively be meaningless (or at least very frustrating).
    + You could divide the criteria into Mandatory and Optional. This provides a decision sieve. Conferences that fail one or more Mandatory criteria are predatory. Conferences that fail multiple Optional criteria are suspected of being predatory but it isn’t confirmed.
    + Set up a decision tree. Start with the weakest criteria and work towards the toughest. Have a cutoff level. Anything above the level is predatory, anything below isn’t.
    + Give each criteria a weighting. Conferences are judged as percentage predatory. Note that some conferences may end up being more than 100% predatory.

    You could also reverse the attitude. Currently you assume that all conferences are legitimate until proven otherwise. You could swap it around and make this a process of legitimisation so that the criteria demonstrate which conferences are legit.

    I suggest you make as many criteria as possible machine-testable. Eg replace ‘multiple’ with ‘three’. This will make it easier for people to judge whether a criteria works or not. It will also reduce arguments about whether a conference passes a criteria or not.

    To work out whether the list works or not, select a list of test conferences. Include both legitimate and illegitimate conferences. Just make sure you know which side of the line each conference falls on. The process of selecting them will help you to sharpen the criteria.
    As people point out issues and edge cases (like undergrad conferences), ask them to suggest two examples of the situation, one one each side of the line. They should at least provide one example and indicate whether it is predatory or not. Some people have already provide examples.
    Apply the criteria to the test cases, and keep refining them until they fit. Might be good as a student project?

    Hope this helps.
    Jonathan

  15. Jeffrey Boore says:

    It is not clear to me why this is such an issue. Instead of identifying “predatory” meetings, the definition of which is very unclear and highly varying among subdisciplines, I’d suggest that less experienced people simply do as I once did — Ask more experienced people for advice on the meetings that are most relevant and useful to attend. I can easily list 20 or 30 well-respected, long-established meetings in my or related fields and even estimate the kinds of attendees one would expect at those and other relevant criteria. Is there any need to consider attending alternatives beyond such a list? (I admit that I may be reaching an age where I’m submitting to curmudgeon-like views, but I do question how much need there is for establishing very many new science meetings and, when there is, occasionally, such a need in some field or another, it is pretty easy to query about who is behind that and what their motives may be.)

    • Alex SL says:

      A similar argument could be made regarding the lists of predatory publishers and stand-alone journals. I would expect scientists to know what journals to submit their manuscripts to and what conferences to go to. I don’t see the ‘scientists get confused by predatory journals’ argument, don’t we have any expectation of competence? And students can ask their supervisors, just like I did.

      That being said, such lists may be useful for people outside of a field, who would not otherwise be in the know but would like to assess if somebody’s CV is inflated or not.

      • James McCrostie says:

        One would hope that academics would know the best places to present and publish their research. Alas after spending more than a year researching predatory conferences its become obvious that the problem is a) large b) growing c) catching people who should know better.

        It’s easy to dismiss these conferences as a bad joke that wouldn’t fool any serious academic. I saw this view expressed on Twitter by a Japanese university instructor. I happen to know that his university had partnered with at least one predatory organizer, hosted a conference by another and that a professor at the same university was involved with the organization.

        I’ve interviewed academics from North America, Europe, and Asia who all unknowingly signed up to present at predatory conferences. Several later became involved in organizing the conferences. Little did they know that what they thought was a scholarly society was in fact a for-profit company.

        Some universities are also easy targets for predatory conference organizers. Some institutions host or sponsor the conferences or organizer. I’ve also seen universities invite predatory conference organizers to give talks they later use for legitimacy.

        The fact that I have colleagues and even friends who have presented at predatory conferences is one of the reasons I felt the need to put this criteria together.

      • Alex SL says:

        James McCrostie,

        I guess it must vary greatly from field to field. Conferences in my area are always organised by a society and attended in great part by that society’s members. If some random dude walked in and said, hey, here is another systematic botany meeting for this geographic region, please send me your dollars, everybody would just go “who the heck are you? And why should I go to a meeting where none of my colleagues will be present?” So that issue just never arises.

      • Alex SL says:

        While I am here, please allow me to add that from the perspective of my field, the following criteria would not appear to make much sense:

        – Inadequate peer review. We have none beyond checking whether an abstract is in scope, and at the most prestigious conferences perhaps the less important talks get turned into posters if there are too many submissions. We certainly don’t have “independent” review either.

        – Accepting papers by undergrads. In fact I would be horrified if I had to work in a field where one’s status determines acceptance instead of the quality of the abstract.

        – Multiple talks per person. Every conference I go to has 1-3 people giving two talks, sometimes simply because they have two very different things to report. I guess they would not be allowed to give three or to do it every time, but as it is nobody has reason to complain.

        I am talking mostly about my experiences with the annual meetings of national botanical / systematics / systematic botany societies seeing a participation of a hundred or above, but also with several international meetings, with participation ranging from c. 20-30 specialists to several thousand.

      • Wim Crusio says:

        I agree that you would expect scientists to know where to publish their articles, but experience shows this is not the case. Just look at the enormous number of articles these “publishers” are churning out…

      • Alex SL says:

        Wim Crusio,

        I have not quantitatively researched the matter in any depth, but whenever I look over the articles in a dodgy for-profit journal or see a few of them popping up in somebody’s CV I get the impression that their customers are largely desperate scientists or pseudoscientists who cannot produce a quality paper that would get into a serious journal. (Plus plagiarised articles, but that is a different issue.)

        There is also the term expectation of competence from my first comment to be considered. I think it is easy to agree that a sentence like “he isn’t a misogynist, he just hates all women” contains an internal contradiction. I would argue the same for “he is a competent scientist, he is merely so ill-informed about his own field that he doesn’t know what journal to submit a paper to”.

        I mean, to be unable to assess that one would first have to not read any relevant literature in one’s field, and surely then one couldn’t do quality work, right? Because if one keeps up with the literature one immediately sees in what journals what kind of useful paper comes out.

      • Wim Crusio says:

        Well, I agree that most of these predatory journals look so crappy that one indeed wonders who would be stupid enough to submit anything to them. But some are smooth enough to mislead even seasoned scientists. I’m not going to mention names, but some time ago, a good friend of mine (and an excellent scientist with articles in Science and all) published a paper in a SCIRP journal… He’s not one to follow any blogs or related stuff, so I am sure that he doesn’t even know that predatory publishers exist…

      • Derek says:

        I agree that researchers themselves may know which journals and conferences are predatory. However, I still think such lists serve a useful purpose. For researchers who work in publicly funded universities, taxpayers are ultimately paying the bill. Usually administers have to sign off on the expenses. These administrators may, or may not, have research backgrounds but even if they do, they may be deans from different disciplines than the researcher submitting the claims. I think that a list of predatory conferences (if done well) could be a useful tool for them to use to see if the money is being well spent. Also, the public has a right to know if conferences and journal publications listed on a university website are legitimate, as they are the ones ultimately paying the bills.

      • Jeffrey Boore says:

        The most interesting aspect of this conversation to me is the realization of just how differently conferences are viewed in different sub-disciplines. Derek’s comment about university administrators having to sign off on going to conferences is yet another example. I think I am typical in my field of paying to attend a conference using my grant funds. I have sole approval authority over that so long as I don’t violate any specific regulations that control that grant funding, which would be the only interest of any administrator. If I, personally, were to judge it to be useful to spend two weeks at a two-person conference that I organized in Tahiti, that would be under no one’s control but my own. Fortunately for the taxpayer, who, of course, has a legitimate interest in how this money is spent, I am also typical in my field in being a careful and responsible steward of precious research dollars in order to conduct as much and as successful research as possible.

  16. John Mashey says:

    1) American Geophysical Union meetings usually have ~15,000 posters, and the bar is deliberately set very low.

    2) Good list. When the dust settles, might consider giving each of the attributes a short code (like A1, A2, …) or unique number, which allows terse enumerations. For example, Skeptical Science Fixed lisst lists many bad arguments, which allows one in text to simply write SkS#2, #3, etc.

  17. eislrc says:

    Is this a Predatory conference i.e 3rd Annual International Conference on Library and Information Science, 25-28 July 2016, Athens, Greece. For more details http://www.atiner.gr/library

  18. Richard says:

    I think the criteria are very broad here as most conferences would fit given these criteria. The best advice is simply to ask people in your field(s) based on their own experience, and rely on recommendations.

  19. herr doktor bimler says:

    Neuroskeptic suggests another criterion —
    Invitation emails that start “Greetings!!!”

    Especially if they start “Greetings for the day!”

  20. […] bom manual para identificar “conferências predatórias”. Está em seu blog, no post “Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences”. Segundo ele, os critérios foram sintetizados por James McCrostie, da Universidade Daito Bunka […]

  21. Jeffrey Boore says:

    I think that there is a lot of difference in the problem of predatory journals than of predatory meetings.

    For journals, we are talking about many who are truly unambiguous predators, where they will publish more-or-less anything for cash, capitalizing on many academic researchers’ desire to inflate their CVs, and often aid that duplicity by having names that mimic real, peer-reviewed journals. The consequences can be extreme, not only by the loss of research funds to this, but because of the unfair assessment made of some researchers’ productivity as compared with others for the rewards of career success.

    Identifying predatory conferences, on the other hand, is more ambiguous and of less consequence, in my view. First, there is a gradual blend, I think, of legitimacy (whatever that means) for conferences, and very few of these criteria signal anything sinister in isolation. Secondly, a lot of it is a matter of preference for what the attendee wants to get out of a conference – Is it the chance to hear groundbreaking research, or to meet and interact with leaders in the field, or to socialize and network with colleagues and potential collaborators, or something else? Thirdly, the consequences of attending a less “legitimate” conference are minor, at least in my field. When evaluating someone’s CV, there is not more than trivial credit a person gets for showing up at a meeting and not even much more if they gave a poster presentation or a short talk. It just “checks the square” that they are participating in professional life, but isn’t really worth any big points. So what is the real consequence? I suppose disappointment by the attendee that s/he paid money for a disappointing experience where the presentations weren’t so good or the meeting not so well attended, but that can happen at the most legitimate of conferences as well.

    • Richard says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Jeffrey Boore.

      Also, I am unclear as to the assertion: “a polished conference experience shouldn’t automatically qualify a conference as legitimate and non-predatory”. So even if it is empirically judged to be run well and worthwhile, then it can still be classed as predatory? I think that’s a little strange.

      Surely a predatory conference is firmly in the “scam” category: i.e. it never happens, or else is so bad that nobody goes back?

      Ask your colleagues, do some simple research:, that’s the easiest way to decide where to spend your research dollars.

      • James McCrostie says:

        By polished I meant the key note speakers show up, speeches start and stop on time, and the conference is not an organizational disaster. That doesn’t mean it is worthwhile in terms of the quality of the presentations.

        There are now several large for-profit companies organizing conferences around the world. In some cases their events run well. But the pressure to maximize revenues mean they will accept pretty much any and all abstracts, including SCIgen papers.

        In several Asian countries governments are pressuring academics to present at “international” conferences. These international presentations and conference proceeding publications are being used in hiring and promotion decisions.

        These for-profit companies are filling a demand. They are essentially selling the required international conference presentation to anyone with $500.

        A conference that never happens is a scam and I would place it in an entirely different category.

    • James McCrostie says:

      I think you’ll find that many predatory conferences are similar to predatory journals in that they will accept anything for cash. I’ve now had over a dozen SCIgen papers accepted to conferences around the world.

      Depending on your field and country, predatory conferences do have large consequences. Scholars in several Asian countries are pressured to make presentations at international conferences for hiring and promotion. Predatory conference organizers are essentially selling the necessary presentations and conference proceeding publications for between $300-500.

      They are abusing the system in much the same way as predatory journals. I’ve regularly come across academics involved in editing predatory journals and presenting and organizing predatory conferences. There is a lot of overlap.

      • Jeffrey Boore says:

        This certainly must vary among fields. In mine, it is almost always true that ANY person can present at ANY conference for nothing more than paying the registration fee, almost none have publications of the results (other than maybe putting the abstracts online for the participants to see) and no one gets much credit for going to a meeting and putting up a poster or giving a short talk (often one of hundreds or even thousands of such posters and talks) other than to just note that they are participating in professional life as expected.

  22. herr doktor bimler says:

    Getting spam now to attend

    “the “International Neuro & Spine Congress – 2016” conference in Dubai, UAE with the theme “Treatment & Management of Complex Neurological Conditions” scheduled from 18th- 20th October, 2016 at Radisson Blu Downtown, Dubai, UAE.

    The Conference is being organized by Subhadra Healthcare, a think tank organization dedicated to healthcare research”

    So this “healthcare think tank” organise A LOT of conferences, in every subfield of health imaginable. The CEO is another OMICS alumnus who went on to work for a “Biogenesis Health Cluster” (professional conference grifters), and has decided that he knows enough about scamming and chicanery to go into business independently:
    https://in.linkedin.com/in/karthik-telidevara-65182350

    In practice, Subhadra Healthcare turns out to be a couple of numpties in an apartment in Hyderabad. Sounds legit!
    https://www.zaubacorp.com/company/SUBHADRA-HEALTH-CARE-PRIVATE-LIMITED/U85300TG2015PTC099058

  23. Hu says:

    ICSAI.org organizes multiple conferences in Asia. Can I trust them?

    • I looked at their three journals. It appears they haven’t published anything yet. It’s too early to tell. I don’t know if they are trustworthy or not. Why not find a strong, established publisher and conference organizer, such as a non-profit scholarly society?

    • James McCrostie says:

      The purpose of this post and the list of criteria was to help scholars determine for themselves which conferences to attend.

      Looking at the name of the organization is the first clue. The Interdisciplinary Circle of Science, Arts and Innovation (ICSAI) strikes me as a little strange. According to the ICSAI webpage it is “a platform for academicians and researchers to share their findings in the field of science, arts and innovation.” The website fails to make clear if this is a for-profit or non-profit “platform”.

      Looking up website registration details reveals that the registrant organization is Infobase Creation Sdn Bhd located at Lot 6.1, PNB Darby Park, Kuala Lumpur. This company is a “training provider offering a wide range of training courses and education-related services for the institutional segment as well as general public”. The website refers to an affiliate named Stratford International Language Centre located at Lot 6.2, PNB Darby Park. According to their website they are also an authorized distributor for DynEd English Language Learning Solution.

      Going back to ICSAI’s website we can see that the first three official event sponsors are: DynEd, Infobase Creation Sdn Bhd, and Stratford International Language Centre.

      I would classify the conference as predatory due to a failure to be clear on the for-profit companies behind the conferences.

      Furthermore, the scope of ICSAI conferences is too broad and they are held too frequently. ICSAI will hold at least 10 events in 2016; all overly broad in scope and even overlapping with each other. For example:
      3rd International Conference on Language, Education, Humanities & Innovation
      5th International Conference on Language, Education & Innovation
      4th International Conference on Language, Innovation, Culture & Education

      A quick look at conference websites show the deadlines conference Call for Papers being extended and the sale of dinner and tour packages.

      ICSAI’s contact page also fails to give an address or the names of anyone behind the organization.

      I would consider their conferences predatory.

  24. […] is James McCrostie, a full-time Associate Professor and part-time journalist in Japan. The list is here. For a PDF file of the criteria, click […]

  25. […] is James McCrostie, a full-time Associate Professor and part-time journalist in Japan. The list is here. For a PDF file of the criteria, click […]

  26. […] Finalmente, para os interessados em não cair nas malhas das conferências caça-níqueis, sugiro a leitura dos critérios propostos pelo professor Jeffrey Beall para identificar quando nos deparamos com esse tipo de pseudo evento científico, o qual pode ser acessado (Aqui!). […]

  27. AP says:

    Most conferences, predatory or not, are useless in most cases. They are organized for filling spare time and have holidays.

    • Jeffrey Boore says:

      I suppose that varies from one field to another and, perhaps, from one person to another, but I have found conferences to be an essential part of my professional growth. I could not disagree more strongly with this dismissive view that conferences are useless.

    • Derek says:

      I think that “most” cases is too strong a statement. When it comes to getting feedback on a paper, I find that the small specialist conferences, with no concurrent sessions, are the most useful. At the very least, you have people from similar areas hearing your presentation.
      Large, general (nonspecialized conferences) tend to be less useful for feedback, as you may get few people attending your paper’s session with a background, or interest, in the area. Even the discussant may be a poor match for your paper. However, if you are from a small university without a good seminar series, attending sessions outside of your specific research area can be a good way of keeping up with the rest of the profession.

  28. James McCrostie says:

    Thank you for your suggestion. It would be difficult to define. Perhaps the criteria should have a final warning signs section.

  29. James McCrostie says:

    Jeffrey Boore wrote: “In mine, it is almost always true that ANY person can present at ANY conference for nothing more than paying the registration fee, almost none have publications of the results (other than maybe putting the abstracts online for the participants to see) and no one gets much credit for going to a meeting”

    The discussion of the differences between disciplines that the original post generated has been very helpful. One idea it’s given me is to try and compare the prevalence of predatory conferences in fields with conference peer review and/or place a higher value on presentations with fields that accept all presentations and/or don’t place much value on presentations in terms of hiring and promotion.

  30. James McCrostie says:

    I wanted to add a thank-you comment. I really appreciate Jeffrey Beall agreeing to post the criteria. Though I hope this post doesn’t end up adding to his workload by becoming a magnet for “What do you think about this conference?” comments.

    I also want to thank all the readers for their thoughtful comments. The responses have been extremely helpful and exceeded my expectations.

    • Richard says:

      The conferences you linked to look pretty legitimate to me.

      The conference experience is about meeting people, networking and yes (shock!) even experiencing a pina colada at sunset. It depends so much about who you meet, and the relationships formed. Measuring that is basically impossible.

      I think we have to be pretty careful as this categorisation seems to me pretty arbitrary, and therefore in an academic context quite dangerous, quite like the supposed scientific techniques to identify Jewish people in WWII.

      Bottom line: it isn’t possible to accurately quantify a conference experience in the same way as it is to appraise a journal.

      • James McCrostie says:

        I hope we can all agree that deceitful practices are unacceptable.

        Which of the following deceitful practices below would you consider arbitrary?

        1) Claiming to be a non-profit when the organizer is a for-profit company.
        2) Hiding or obscuring relationships with for-profit partner companies.
        3) Falsely claiming the involvement of people on advisory boards or organizing committees.
        4) Falsely claiming universities or other organizations as partners or sponsors.
        5) Listing addresses or phone numbers that are nonexistent or false.
        6) Using organization names that imply they are based in one country or region when in fact they operate out of a different country or region.
        7) A lack of transparency by using fake names to hide the identity of organizers or their country of origin. Failing to list the names of individuals owning or controlling the organization.
        8) Organizers falsely claiming academic positions or academic qualifications.
        9) False claims of independent peer review.

    • John Mashey says:

      I don’t think it’s a binary choice with a hard line, and I’m not sure there is a enough data organized to start clustering them.

      That’s why I suggested earlier that the criteria be organized and codified, to allow terse tables of conferences and their attributes to expose patterns.

      These days, I only got to AGU and sometimes AAAS meetings, and I go more to meet people and wander the posters …
      but after all, there is an opportunity cost in attending meetings.

      • Richard says:

        Luke,

        My field is business/economics, and I have attended academic conferences run by both for profits and not for profits so I don’t think that should be a criteria any more than a for-profit publisher should be considered predatory.

        I don’t have the same rabid dislike you have for the for profit sector, but I looked into the link you provided and iafor states the relationship with a business entity, so I wouldn’t call that obscuring. It could give more information as to how the entities interract, but the program looks decent, and having looked at a conference in my field, abmc, it all looks pretty legitimate.

        I’m afraid the rest of your post reads like a bit of a rambling Marxist.

  31. Richard says:

    Dear Luke,

    I guess I am uncomfortable with your approach here, and indeed the language you are choosing to use to judge this organization is pretty strong: “con, fraud, scam, stolen”. I see nothing that would justify that; certainly not in your argument, nor in your back of a napkin calculations.

    There seem to be a number of pretty high profile academics and universities involved or partnered with their organization, and that would point to a certain level of quality, and certainly counter your “100 percent illegitimate” suggestion, which I find unhelpful. I guess we will have to agree to disagree!

  32. Jeffrey Boore says:

    That sounds really awful. I’m not sure why people would go to any conference like this, given that there are hundreds of reputable, long-standing conferences every year. Why not just go to the ones in your field that your colleagues highly recommend based on their past experiences?

    But, what I really wanted to say is about the quick discrimination on the basis of whether or not the conference is hosted by a for-profit versus a not-for-profit entity. It is very common for people in academia to grossly misunderstand the difference. On the one hand, there are many for-profit organizations that do many good things and provide a lot of value to their customers. On the other, there is nothing at all that ensures that a non-profit will operate in a benevolent or frugal way, nothing, for example, to prevent them from paying their corporate officers multi-million dollar bonuses. The ONLY difference for any business that operates in one of the many fields that qualify for 501(c)3 status is whether or not they can distribute money to shareholders who do not work for the corporation.

  33. Reggie says:

    Clayton and Luke,

    I have attended an IAFOR conference and had the opposite experience. Presentations were decent and the keynotes were good. Moreover, the keynote and featured presenters attended many of the smaller sessions and mentored us. I agree that some of the small session presenters’ English was not always easy to undrstand, but that is common at many academic conferences and the substance was decent and the presenters generally had helpful powerpoints. Not sure which conference you attended, but it was certainly unlike the one I attended.

  34. […] Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences (US) […]

  35. DHAM says:

    i really appreciate your deep insight, it helped me a lot.
    could you please check up this conference
    http://researchworld.org/Conference/Amsterdam/ICPCES/
    knowing that the organizer will deliver more than 5 different conferences in the same date and place!

    thanks

    • I would recommend you find a better conference than this one. It funnels papers to predatory journals, and as you indicate, it organizes conferences like a fish wholesaler. Please try to find a conference organized by a non-profit scholarly society.

    • Donna says:

      Note that this conference was not in Amsterdam, but in an IBIS hotel in Badhoevedorp, a very boring village/suburb in the neighbourhood of Amsterdam. It has no relations with the Amsterdam universities.

  36. Katherine says:

    Thank you for posting and commenting on this checklist criteria that as everything else are useful guidelines to better decide who we send our proposals to or not. Could you please give me your opinion on this one? http://www.iatefl.org/annual-conference/glasgow-2017 and where can I find most reliable conference in the field of EFL/ESOL/TEFL/ESL? I receive many invitations as spam mails. Thanks,

  37. James Mccrostie says:

    My advice would be to have a close look at the conference/organizer website and count how many of the criteria on my list apply.

    You should be pleasantly surprised how few apply to them.

  38. […] (Proposed Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences, Scholarly Open Access, 21  disponibil aici) a încercat recent să identifice  astfel de conferinţe, iar criteriile enumerate trebuie să […]

  39. Radyad says:

    I am advised to write an article in Journal of Advanced Agricultural Technology. What is your opinion on the journal itself?
    Thanks for your respons.

    • I recommend you find a better journal than this one. I see many problems with this journal. I couldn’t find an editorial board, for example. They don’t reveal where they are based.

  40. juliakbird says:

    I was just asked to be a speaker at the “Global Food Safety Summit” by Curtis & Wyss Group. The email I was sent does not mention how my background would fit in with the conference subject (I have limited experience in food safety), and it contains multiple grammatical and typographical errors, so these two were automatic red flags for me. The website http://www.curtiswyss.com/ does not mention the conference, and they seem to schedule a couple of rather niche conferences at the same time at the same location.

    The email itself does not mention any costs, but I assume that would happen after I reply.

    Anyone else receive a similar invitation?

  41. Pat says:

    First, thanks so much for all the work on these pages. Immensely helpful, and not just to academia.

    I work in a professional organization where there is a lot of overlap with academic fields, but not necessarily day to day experience with academic publications and conferences. Some people, yes, but not a majority; even those who are more in that environment may not be as aware of the rise of predators as it is not a day-to day exposure.

    We have just taken the list for possible predatory conferences, as there is interest in some quarters here around Infonex offerings (they bombard us with faxes) – but they raise red flags for me. Wide topic choices, presenter shifts to conference chair without any real reason, 6 weeks out and no venue…let’s just say we are unconvinced it’s the best use of funds. I think the criteria will be most helpful, and I’ll happily communicate back how it went.

    If others are interested in viewing more at http://www.infonex.ca/index.shtml other opinions are most welcome.

    • James McCrostie says:

      Dear Pat,

      I took a quick look at infonex’s website and they are a company offering professional development courses and training seminars. Therefore my list designed for use with academic conferences can’t really be used as is to evaluate their offerings. For example, looking at their website there are no names or titles of anyone working for the company. This would be a red flag for an academic conference organizer but I don’t know if it is unusual for a non-degree granting educational services company. The names are not a secret they are easily found on linkedin.

      I’d be interested hearing about your experiences using the criteria to identify poor practices in the area of professional development and training.

    • catelynne says:

      I just received an e-mail yesterday from Infonex asking to present at “our upcoming annual information & records management conference for the public sector,” without actually giving the name of the conference.

      The topic they want me to present is only tangentially related to my area of expertise – plus I don’t know why they’d want an academic librarian to talk about government records management.

      It seems to me that if you’re able to get only quasi-relevant speakers, chances are it’s not worth the price of entry. It is my opinion that this is a predatory conference.

      • James McCrostie says:

        Out of curiosity, did infonex offer to pay you to be a speaker?

      • metacate says:

        Nope. I called them to get more information and asked if I would get paid – they said no, the “payment” comes in the form of networking opportunities / the prestige of presenting.

        I also asked who asked them to organize that conference, or if they were organizing it on behalf of a government department. They said no. I asked who benefits financially from the fees, they said their company does.

      • James McCrostie says:

        Thank you very much for that additional information.

  42. sarah sampson moyle says:

    Curtis and Wyss appears to be a total scam. I signed up for a conference and they just fell off the face of the earth. In the process of reporting them to authorities

  43. YT says:

    Good thing I looked into this before actually registering for ATINER. But if you do check their website, it really looks legit.

  44. JM says:

    I have been invited to IAFOR’s 7th conference on technology in the classroom, the conference fees are $400 and extra for profit tours are also offered. They also addressed me as name name at Seoul National University UK – which makes me suspicious of the quality as Seoul is clearly not in the UK. The invitation letter also makes reference to a lot of Professors and PHD’s. Birkbeck University of London is a connection, and they are a serious university, but also one who have ‘sold out’ their standards quite radically in the neo liberalisation process over the past 6 years. It seems predatory to me. What do people think?

    • James McCrostie says:

      You need to decide for yourself if it’s worth attending an IAFOR conference. My main concern is that in Aug. 2015, before I contacted IAFOR with questions, their website stated that IAFOR: 1) was a “Non-Profit Organization” and 2) had an office in Hong Kong.

      However, IAFOR conference participants pay registration fees to the for-profit IAFOR Limited Liability Corp. From 2010-2015, IAFOR’s main web page made no mention of the for-profit IAFOR LLC.

      From 2010 to 2015, the website also claimed IAFOR had a Hong Kong office. The Hong Kong office address provided on IAFOR’s website was actually the location for a company called OCRA. Company registration documents show it was a virtual office for a separate company IAFOR Ltd. (Hong Kong).

      After IAFOR became aware I was investigating them they changed the website. 1) It currently describes IAFOR as a “non-profit organization” with the following legal disclaimer: “IAFOR’s commercial activities are operated by a mission-driven social enterprise that underwrites the organization and funds non-profit and charitable activities.”

      You can decide for yourself if this makes it clear whether IAFOR’s conferences are for-profit or non-profit.

      2) Mention of the Hong Kong office was removed and someone started deregistering IAFOR Hong Kong Ltd.

      I expect you’ll soon find several commentators who neglect to use their full, real names arriving to defend IAFOR.

  45. We can confirm that we have no record of anyone from Seoul National University being sent a Letter of Invitation for this conference.

    We would also like to draw attention to the fact that Mr James McCrostie has been implicated repeatedly in false accusations about IAFOR, and that within the past six months he has been discredited by two formal retractions; by the Japan Times for an article he authored, and by The Japan Association of Language Teaching for an article he edited (as authorship could not be confirmed).

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/05/11/issues/predatory-conferences-stalk-japans-groves-academia/#.WBgJF5N96Rs

    http://jalt-publications.org/node/22/articles/5546-retraction-time-new-coat-paint-blacklist-japanese-universities

    I would invite anyone with any concerns about our conferences to contact us directly.

    Alexander Pratt, IAFOR

    • James McCrostie says:

      Dear Mr. Pratt,

      Thank you for your reply.

      IAFOR’s attempt to besmirch me rather than explain which of my concerns was a “false accusation” revealed a lot about the kind of company that IAFOR really is.

  46. John Gregory says:

    I have attended a conference organized by Curtis Wyss (Curtis and Wyss Group). It was an excellent one and i will love to attend more of there conferences in future

    • James McCrostie says:

      I’ll take John Gregory at his word and assume that he is a mere conference attendee and will be attending more Curtis Wyss conferences in the future.

      Mr. Gregory demonstrates something that I’ve discovered through my research. No matter what predatory event I’ve attended or investigated or what the organizers do (hide for-profit status, falsely claim peer review, steal identities for organizing identities, funnel papers to predatory journals) there are ALWAYS attendees willing to defend the conference. To them it seems if the event took place and they met at least one other serious academic then it couldn’t possibly be predatory.

      Jon Cohen encountered the same phenomena when writing about predatory conferences in Science.
      http://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/76.full

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