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Recognizing Predatory Journals and Conferences

A guide to educate JWU faculty, students and staff about journals and conferences that employ deceptive practices for unmerited financial or reputational gain. Originally created by Pieta Eklund, and reproduced / edited with permission

Assessing the quality of conferences

Predatory Conferences

Participating in the right conferences give you the opportunity to share your own research, and take part of the latest developments in your field. At a good conference you also get a chance to network, and your conference abstract will be peer reviewed and made available in a form that makes it easy for others to find it. On the other hand, if you participate in a predatory conference you will be spending time and money without getting any of the benefits of going to a reputable conference.

The term ”predatory conference” is used here to mean conferences that exist solely to make a profit. These conferences lack a proper review process when it comes to abstracts and speakers. Some predatory conferences are real—you can participate in them, but will find they leave a lot to desire in terms of quality. Other conferences are never arranged at all, despite participants paying to attend. Predatory publishers frequently misuse names and logotypes to seem affiliated with reputable institutions or famous researchers.‚Äč

Keep the following things in mind to make an informed decision about where to send your abstract and sign up for participation:

  • Call for papers: Do you recognize the sender? Is the email from a mailing list that you are a member of, or has your work e-mail been targeted? Predatory conferences have a tendency to spam individual e-mail accounts rather than go through mailing lists. What is the language like? Any typos or grammatical errors?
  • Conference name and discipline: Is the conference relevant for your research?
  • Conference website: Is all the information about the date and location of the conference available on the website? Does it contain any information about how abstracts and papers will be reviewed? Do you recognize any names in the conference board or organizers? What is the payment information like? Is there a conference programme and schedule available? The clearer the information the better.
  • Conference date and location: Certain predatory journals arrange for multiple conferences to happen at the same time and place. If you search for the conference date and location and find more conference in other fields happening simultaneously as the conference you are interested in, that is a sign that something shady is going on.
  • Quality of previous conference: Can you find previous years’ conference publications? If the conference website claims that they publish conference papers in special numbers, make sure they are available. If you can’t find any previous conference papers you have reason to be suspicious. One tip is to use the Swedish DiVA Portal to search for publications from over 40 universities. If you can find evidence that many others have published conference papers and abstracts for the conference you are interested in that is a good sign.
  • Do you recognize any of the speakers? If you do that's probably a good sign, as long as they know they are listed as conference speakers. If none of the speakers are familiar you can try to find out more information about them, and see if it makes sense that they would be invited to this conference.
  • Frequency and other conferences: Is the conference being arranged for the first time? In that case you have reason to be extra vigilant, as there is less information for you to go on. How often is the conference arranged? Certain predatory conferences are arranged several times a year in different locations. This would be highly unusual for a reputable conference.
  • Sponsors: Are there sponsors for the conference? Who are they? Reputable conferences frequently have sponsors with some sort of connection to the conference subject.
  • Contact information: Is there any named person listed in the contact information for the conference? If so, can you find them online, and do they have the affiliation stated on the conference webpage? Is it reasonable to assume that they would be working for this conference?
  • Connection to a predatory journal: If the conference papers are due to be published by a journal, make sure it’s a legitimate one and not a predatory journal.