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Identifying and Avoiding Questionable Conferences

By Barbara Gastel | Nov. 10, 2014

Greetings again. I hope that all is going well for you.

Recently things went badly for a researcher whom I met. The researcher had received email inviting her to speak at a conference in a lovely place. Although the conference was expensive, she decided to attend and submitted her registration fee.

Later the researcher learned that the conference wouldn’t be held. Although she asked for her money back, the organizers wouldn’t return it. Now the researcher wonders whether the organizers just wanted money.

Recently, there have been many such questionable conferences. Some are announced but never held. Many are held but, rather than being of high quality, are mainly ways for companies to get rich.

Such questionable conferences can be hard to distinguish from reputable conferences—especially because they often have similar names. How can one know that a conference might be questionable? Perhaps be suspicious if the invitation does some of the following:

  • asks you to speak even though the conference isn’t really in your field
  • invites you to present research but doesn’t request an abstract
  • emphasizes the beautiful location rather than the conference content
  • lists fees that are much higher than usual in your field
  • contains grammar errors, misspellings, or such

Some questionable conferences are held by companies that also publish questionable journals. A list of suspected such companies appears online.

Finally, if you’re unsure whether a conference seems real and reputable, consider asking well-established scholars in your field. AuthorAID mentors can help in this regard. So can the AuthorAID discussion list.

Until the next post—


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