Predatory conferences: What they are and how to avoid them

Predatory conferences have become very prevalent in recent years, posing a serious problem for the scientific community. They reportedly even outnumber legitimate ones! Predatory conferences are those organized for the sole purpose of making a profit – often utilizing misleading marketing tactics and low or non-existent scientific standards to attract unsuspecting investigators. In additional to the loss of financial resources, these conferences are problematic to the scientific community since they promote and proliferate sub-standard scientific data.

Conferences are one of the main avenues for disseminating new scientific information. They therefore represent a critical part of the life-cycle of scientific discoveries. It is important therefore that the science being publicized meet strict scientific standards agreed upon by the scientific community. The organizers of these conferences put on hundreds of events each year with very little scientific rigor or regard, and hurt both the science and the participants.

This does not mean that any efforts are being spared when it comes to organizing these sham events! This is why identifying these can be tricky even for seasoned conference goers

Part of our goal here at scircle is to ensure that every event listed to our site goes through sufficient vetting to protect our members and the scientific community at large. We continue to build features to increase our ability to identify these types of events. Additionally, through event ratings and attendee feedback, the entire community can participate in this process.

Education is yet another way we seek to help steer potential victims away from these predators.

Here is our a checklist that can be used to help decide if a conference is predatory.

  • Is the conference or organizer featured on any list of known predatory conferences?
  • Is it organized by any known group or professional societies in the field?
  • Do they use spamming or other aggressive forms of solicitation?
  • Are there multiple conferences across broad disciplines being organized by the same entity?
  • Was it just way too easy to get an abstract accepted?
  • Does it sound too good to be true – offering grand awards and prizes?

The answers to any specific question above will not be conclusive proof that a conference is predatory, but it should at the very least get you to ask additional question.

There are additional resources available here.

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