How to Protect Yourself from Predatory Conferences

By Grace Hamburger on Feb 26, 2020
How to Protect Yourself from Predatory Conferences

Most seasoned researchers have seen their fair share of conferences. The ability to learn, network, and eat popcorn shrimp alongside your colleagues is a valuable opportunity, and if the organizers do it right, these conferences can be a lot of fun. But some are worse than others, and some conferences use highly deceptive advertising tactics to make researchers believe the conferences are something that they are not. These are known as predatory conferences. What exactly makes a conference predatory, and what steps can you take to make sure that you don’t fall victim to one?

What is a Predatory Conference?

Like predatory journals, predatory conferences are run by for-profit companies who target academics and researchers to attend and present. Often these conferences are called “fake,” but in a lot of ways they are unfortunately very real. A predatory conference boasts big names and sponsors who are not affiliated and advertise heavily that “all submissions are accepted” to collect as many Academics as possible. Despite falsifying all the details, these conferences are still held and met with much disappointment. Researchers who are unlucky enough to attend find a poorly organized, low-quality program full of withdrawn submissions and few others in attendance. The presenters have no structure and topics that are presented are all over the board. There is no peer review process, so there is no way of knowing if the information presented at these conferences is valid.

Identifying a Predatory Conference

Predatory conferences are becoming very clever in putting on a legitimate front, and some studies suggest that predatory conferences may outnumber real conferences. With so many fakes in circulation, how can a researcher know for sure what they are signing up for? There are several things to look for when determining the legitimacy of a conference:

  • Predatory conferences charge higher-than-average fees for admission, ensuring that they make their money no matter what. They also tend to charge presenters higher fees than the attendees.
  • Take a critical look at the organizer and stay away from organizations that are unaccredited or unfamiliar to you. It is also important to look at contact details, as predatory conferences tend to use fake or generic information to hide behind. If they are hard to track, they are likely predatory.
  • Read the program carefully. Predatory conferences cover a wide range of unrelated topics and boast big name sponsors that seem to have no affiliation with the subject matter. All-encompassing terms like “interdisciplinary,” “global,” and “international” are possible red flags.
  • Predatory conferences often piggyback off other conferences by using an almost identical setup to try to convince researchers of their legitimacy. A simple Google search could tell you if a similar conference already exists. If it does, you may be looking at the fake.
  • One of the quickest ways to determine if a conference is predatory is taking a critical look at the literature. If the websites, e-mails or other promotional material for the conference is full of faulty spelling and grammar, or if these pages are cheap and poorly set up, it is likely fake.

Predatory conferences may be plentiful, but if you know what to look for you can easily avoid this unethical presentation practice. Have you considered taking your presentations online? eContent Pro International is happy to offer a webinar platform for researchers to showcase their valuable research. Send us a webinar proposal today!

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