A phenomenon known as predatory meetings or predatory conferences has become increasingly common in recent years. Researchers have previously received numerous email messages inviting them to publish their papers in non-existent scientific publication series. These days, predators are also aggressively marketing fictitious meetings and scholarly conferences. The websites of such “fake conferences” may at first glance appear genuine, and the list of speakers usually features the names of real researchers, albeit without their knowledge. Once the participation fee has been paid and the conference looms, the fraudsters take down the website, no longer respond to customer service emails, and disappear with the money, personal and credit card details and research results (scientific abstracts) of those registered.
How can you spot fraud and scams? Ask yourself whether the title of the conference is lacking a scientific focus and whether the presentation text is overly crammed with all central themes of the research field. Are abstracts accepted without a scholarly peer review? If this is the case, it should set off “alarm bells”. If you suspect fraud, consider the following:
- Has the conference been organised before? If the title suggests that it is, say, the 12th annual conference, but you cannot find any online documentation of previous meetings, you have almost certainly come across a predatory meeting.
- Who is organising the conference? The organisers of genuine conferences are usually at least fairly well known in the research field.
- Have your supervisor or other researchers in the field heard of the conference? Has someone participated in the same conference before?
Be especially careful if the announcement states that the conference is being organised for the first time.