As the field of research continues to expand and evolve, the number of conferences and journals that offer opportunities to publish research has also grown. While this provides valuable opportunities for researchers to share their findings and contribute to the field, it also means that there are now more opportunities for predatory conferences and journals to take advantage of unsuspecting researchers. These fraudulent publications often promise opportunities for publication and networking, but provide little or no academic benefit, and can even harm researchers’ careers by associating them with disreputable publications.
Statistics related to predatory conferences and journals
- A study published in Nature in 2019 found that at least 4,000 predatory journals existed, publishing an estimated 400,000 articles per year.
- In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States won a lawsuit against OMICS Group Inc., a publisher of predatory journals, for deceptive publishing practices. The settlement included a $50.1 million judgment against the company and its CEO.
- In a survey of over 11,000 researchers conducted by Nature in 2018, 40% of respondents reported being solicited to submit to a predatory journal, and 25% reported knowing someone who had published in one.
- A study published in BMC Medicine in 2015 found that nearly 50% of articles published in 118 potentially predatory journals did not undergo peer review before publication.
These statistics highlight the prevalence of predatory conferences and journals, as well as the potential harm they can cause to researchers and the scientific community as a whole.
In this article, we will explore how to identify predatory conferences and journals, including the key characteristics of legitimate publications, red flags to look out for, and tools for verifying the legitimacy of a publication. By being informed and vigilant, researchers can protect themselves and the integrity of the academic research they produce.
Characteristics of Predatory Conferences and Journals
What are Predatory Conferences and Journals?
Predatory conferences and journals are fake or low-quality academic conferences and journals that operate primarily to make money rather than to advance knowledge. These conferences and journals often use misleading or deceptive practices to attract submissions and conference registrations, such as sending unsolicited emails to researchers, promising quick publication or acceptance, or charging exorbitant fees for publication or participation.
These predatory conferences and journals often have low or non-existent standards for peer review and may accept articles and conference papers without proper scrutiny, leading to a proliferation of low-quality and sometimes even fraudulent research. They may also publish papers without proper editing or formatting, leading to poor-quality publications that may be difficult to read or cite.
Participating in predatory conferences and publishing in predatory journals can harm a researcher’s reputation and credibility, as it may be seen as an indication that they are willing to participate in disreputable practices. It is important for researchers to carefully evaluate any conference or journal before submitting their work or agreeing to participate.
Lack of Clear Focus or Scope
The conference or journal has a broad or vague topic without clear subtopics or themes. For example, a conference with the topic “Computer Science” without specifying subtopics like “Artificial Intelligence” or “Computer Networks”.
Lack of Peer Review or Rigorous Review Process
Peer review is the backbone of academic publishing, and a predatory conference or journal may lack any form of peer review or have a superficial process that doesn’t ensure quality. For example, a conference that accepts papers without any review process, or a journal that claims to conduct peer review but doesn’t provide clear details on the process, the qualifications of the reviewers, or the acceptance rates.
High Publication Fees or Processing Charges
While legitimate conferences and journals may have fees for publishing or presenting a predatory conference or journal may have excessive fees that aren’t justified by the quality of the venue or its peer review process. For example, a conference or journal that charges significantly higher fees than comparable events or publications, or a conference that requires attendees to pay high registration fees without offering clear benefits or services.
An Unprofessional or Low-Quality Website
A predatory conference or journal may have a website that looks unprofessional or low-quality, with poor design or layout, broken links, or incomplete information. For example, a website that uses a generic or unbranded template, or that doesn’t provide clear information on the conference or journal’s location, dates, organizers, or theme.
Unsolicited Invitations to Publish or Present
A predatory conference or journal may use aggressive or spammy tactics to attract submissions, such as sending unsolicited emails or messages to potential authors. For example, a conference or journal sends mass emails to researchers who aren’t in the conference or journal’s target audience or that use overly positive or hyperbolic language to describe the conference or journal.
No Clear Affiliation with a Reputable Academic Institution or Society
A predatory conference or journal may lack clear affiliations with reputable academic institutions or societies or may claim to be affiliated with organizations that aren’t well-known or respected in the field. For example, a conference that doesn’t list its organizers’ academic affiliations or that claims to be affiliated with a non-existent or defunct organization.
Red Flags to Look Out For
It’s important for researchers to be aware of the red flags when selecting conferences or journals to publish their work. Some of the key indicators of predatory conferences and journals include poor grammar or spelling errors, no clear contact information, and misleading or overly positive language. By paying attention to these red flags, researchers can avoid submitting their work to predatory venues and protect their academic reputation.
No or Limited Information on the Editorial Board or Review Process
A red flag to look out for is a lack of information on the editorial board or review process. Predatory journals or conferences may not provide clear information on their editorial board or reviewers, which makes it difficult to assess the quality of the peer review process. For example, a journal that does not provide the names, affiliations, or qualifications of its editors or reviewers or a conference that does not mention any reviewers in its acceptance letter or website.
Poor Grammar or Spelling Errors in Emails or Conference Materials
Another red flag is poor grammar or spelling errors in emails or conference materials. Predatory conferences or journals may have low-quality communication that contains numerous errors, which can indicate a lack of professionalism and quality. For example, an acceptance email from a conference that contains numerous spelling or grammatical errors, or a conference website with multiple typos or grammatical mistakes.
Misleading or Overly Positive Language About the Conference or Journal
Another red flag is misleading or overly positive language about the conference or journal. Predatory conferences or journals may use overly positive or hyperbolic language to describe their venue or the quality of their peer review process, which can be a sign of a lack of quality or reputability. For example, a conference that claims to be “the best conference in computer science” or a journal that describes its peer review process as “world-renowned,” without providing any evidence or context to support these claims.
No Clear Contact Information or Physical Address
A lack of clear contact information or physical address is another red flag to look out for. Predatory conferences or journals may not provide clear or accurate contact information, which can make it difficult to follow up on questions or concerns. For example, a conference that only provides a contact form on its website, with no phone number or physical address, or a journal that only lists an email address without any additional contact information.
Listing of Fake or Non-Existent Impact Factors or Indexing Services
A final red flag to look out for is the listing of fake or non-existent impact factors or indexing services. Predatory journals may list fake or non-existent impact factors or indexing services to make their publication seem more reputable or legitimate. For example, a journal that lists a non-existent indexing service or a predatory journal that claims to have an impact factor that doesn’t exist or is not recognized by legitimate indexing services like Web of Science or Scopus.
When it comes to attending or organizing a conference, the location of the event is an important consideration. While some may assume that a conference hosted in a prestigious hotel or resort is of higher quality or more reputable, this is not necessarily the case.
The location of the conference does not determine its quality, legitimacy, or value. Rather, it is the content, organization, and execution of the conference that determine its credibility and impact.
An academic conference held in an educational institution may have certain advantages, such as access to specialized facilities and a more academic environment, and if necessary, it may be possible to verify the conference details with the institution.
However, if a conference is being held in a hotel, it may be difficult to verify the details with the hotel itself, and the responsibility for verifying the legitimacy of the conference falls on the individual researcher.
It is important to carefully evaluate the conference organizers and program before committing to attend, regardless of the location of the event. Ultimately, the location of the conference should be just one of many factors considered when evaluating the quality and legitimacy of an academic event.
The Conference Claims Regarding Tie Up with IEEE Explorer / Scopus etc.
If the conference claims to have a tie-up with IEEE Explorer, you can verify it by following these steps:
- Check the IEEE Explorer website: Visit the IEEE Explorer website (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/) and search for the conference in question. If the conference is listed on IEEE Explorer, it may be an indication that the conference is legitimate and has a tie-up with IEEE.
- Verify the IEEE affiliation: Check whether the conference website or materials include the IEEE logo or any indication of affiliation with IEEE. If the conference is affiliated with IEEE, it should be prominently displayed on its website and conference materials.
- Contact IEEE: You can contact IEEE directly to verify the tie-up with the conference. IEEE has a customer service center that can help you with any inquiries related to IEEE Explorer and its affiliated conferences.
- Check IEEE’s conference calendar: IEEE maintains a calendar of its affiliated conferences on its website. You can check the calendar to see if the conference in question is listed and whether it is affiliated with IEEE.
It is important to note that just because a conference claims to be affiliated with IEEE does not necessarily mean that it is legitimate or of high quality. You should still carefully evaluate the conference and its organizers to ensure that it is a reputable and credible event.
If a conference claims that its proceedings will be indexed by Scopus, you can verify it by following these steps:
- Check the Scopus website: Visit the Scopus website (https://www.scopus.com/) and search for the conference in question. If the conference is listed in the Scopus database, it means that the conference proceedings are indexed by Scopus.
- Verify the affiliation: Check whether the conference website or materials include the Scopus logo or any indication of an affiliation with Scopus. If the conference is affiliated with Scopus, it should be prominently displayed on their website and conference materials.
- Contact Scopus: You can contact Scopus directly to verify the indexing of the conference proceedings. Scopus has a customer service center that can help you with any inquiries related to the indexing of conference proceedings.
- Check the Scopus list of indexed conference proceedings: Scopus maintains a list of indexed conference proceedings on its website. You can check the list to see if the conference in question is listed and whether its proceedings are indexed by Scopus.
It is important to note that just because a conference claims that its proceedings will be indexed by Scopus does not necessarily mean that the conference is legitimate or of high quality. You should still carefully evaluate the conference and its organizers to ensure that it is a reputable and credible event.
Tools for Identifying Predatory Conferences and Journals
Researchers can use various tools to identify and avoid predatory conferences and journals. Some of the most useful tools include the Think.Check.Submit website, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and the Web of Science and Scopus databases. By utilizing these resources and conducting research on potential venues, researchers can make informed decisions and protect themselves from predatory publishers. Here are some examples of tools for identifying predatory conferences and journals:
Check the Website of Think.Check.Submit.
Think.Check.Submit. is a website that provides a checklist of criteria to consider when evaluating journals or conferences for quality and legitimacy. This website is useful for identifying predatory conferences and journals because it offers a list of reputable publishers and organizations, and it outlines key characteristics of a trustworthy publication. For example, in computer science, a researcher could use this website to evaluate whether a conference or journal is affiliated with a reputable organization or publisher, has a clear peer review process, and is transparent about its publication fees.
Use the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to Verify Whether the Journal is Reputable
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a comprehensive database of reputable open-access journals. DOAJ provides a platform for researchers to verify whether a journal is reputable or not by assessing various criteria, including the peer review process, transparency in publishing fees, and editorial policies. Researchers can search for open-access journals using keywords and then verify their legitimacy by checking whether the journal is listed in DOAJ.
I have written a comprehensive article on Open Access Journals: What do you Need to Know as a Researcher?. This article will help you assess the quality of open access journals. You can visit the article for further details.
Check Whether the Conference or Journal is Listed in the Web of Science or Scopus Databases
The Web of Science and Scopus are databases of academic journals that are widely recognized for their quality and rigour. Researchers can search for a conference or journal and check whether it is listed in these databases. If a conference or journal is listed in Web of Science or Scopus, it is a good indicator that the publication is reputable and has undergone a rigorous peer review process.
You can visit my article on Unlocking the Mystery of Journal Rankings(Q1,Q2,Q3,Q4): A Comprehensive Guide. This article will help you to know the reputation and ranking of journals under consideration. You can visit the blog post for further details.
Search for Reviews or Feedback from Other Researchers Online
Another tool for identifying predatory conferences and journals is to search for reviews or feedback from other researchers online. This can be done by searching for the name of the conference or journal on academic social media platforms, such as ResearchGate or Twitter, or by checking online discussion forums, such as Reddit. Researchers can also look for published articles or editorials that evaluate the quality of a conference or journal. By examining the experiences and opinions of other researchers, a researcher can gain valuable insight into the quality and legitimacy of a publication.
In summary, this article has outlined several key points to consider when identifying predatory conferences and journals. These include understanding the characteristics of a legitimate conference or journal, being aware of the potential for predatory practices, looking out for red flags, and using reputable tools and resources to verify the legitimacy of a publication.
It is important for researchers to be vigilant when selecting conferences or journals to publish in. By carefully evaluating the legitimacy of a publication, researchers can avoid wasting time and money on fraudulent conferences and journals that provide no real academic benefit.
Furthermore, it is important for researchers to share their experiences and knowledge to help others avoid predatory conferences and journals. This can be done by reporting fraudulent publications to relevant authorities, providing feedback on academic social media platforms or discussion forums, or publishing editorials or articles that evaluate the quality of a conference or journal.
In conclusion, being vigilant and informed when selecting conferences or journals to publish in is crucial for maintaining the quality and integrity of academic research. By working together and sharing knowledge, researchers can help to identify and eliminate predatory practices and ensure that academic research is published in reputable and trustworthy publications.