Predatory Conferences: the ugly offspring of Predatory Journals

Mar 16 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

I got the following email, marked "urgent" no less:

Dear Dr. Potnia Theron,


The purpose of this letter is to formally invite you to be a Speaker for International Conference on Anatomy and Physiology which is going to be held during August 11-13, 2016 at Birmingham, UK.

The conference will be organized around the theme Advancement in the teaching and research in the field of Human Anatomy & Physiology

The first give-away is that Anatomy & Physiology is not my primary meeting/field. But! This is in England. I had a mentor from Birmingham! There are interesting people doing interesting research in Birmingham. I'd always love an excuse to go to the UK. Then you go to the webpage and discover, its sponsored by Omics. Hmmm... the various "omics" are not really part of the work I do, or anatomy/physiology, so why are they sponsoring this? Then a little tiny bell goes off in my head. I immediately google "Jeff Beall"  and "Omics" and get this hit from The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

The CHE article is worth the read. It points out there are valid and legit OA journals that work on the author-pays model. There are a number of non-trivial discusions, arguments and mmm.. interactions about OA, here and in the twittersphere. This is not about those issues.  This is about the predatory journals that cross the line. Jeff Beall is a librarian who runs an invaluable blog, Scholarly Open Access,  and frequently blogs about predatory entities. OMICS claims it is legit. But as the CHE article & others by Beall suggest, OMICS seems to cross the line. Read about it here and here.

As for their conferences, from Beall:

Now new evidence has surfaced revealing that OMICS, which is also in the business of organizing scientific conferences, has been 1) using the names of scientists, oftentimes without their permission, to invite participants to their meetings, 2) promoting their meetings by giving them names that are deceptively similar to other well-established meetings that have been held for years by scientific societies, and 3) refusing to refund registration fees, even if their meetings are cancelled.

Do not fall for these tactics. If you are a trainee, talk to your mentors about which conferences are worth attending. When funds are limited, its always tempting to go somewhere "interesting", like the UK. And at any point in one's career, getting an invitation is a good feeling. But some good feelings aren't real.







4 responses so far

  • namnezia says:

    Ha, I get invited to give an "honorable speech" in China at least twice a week, in conferences in fields ranging from Food Biotechnology, Obstetrics, to Immunology. Never in my field. The invite is always signed with some English name, such as "Judy" or "Lucy" but with no last name. The website lists "hundreds of international scientists" already attending. I wonder if they actually ARE attending and if not whether they know their names and pictures are plastered all over these conference websites.

  • Christina Pikas says:

    Just wanted to mention that Beall has frequently been criticized about how he goes about making his list. He is unapologetically anti-open access. In earlier iterations of his list, he included publishers for no better reason than they were headquartered in developing countries.

    So checking his list is fine, but use your own judgement.

    • potnia theron says:

      yes, I agree absolutely with you. I think he's amended some of the issues with developing countries. If I have not faulted him for going too far in one direction, it is likely because when he did start, he was one of the first to call out the predators.

      Your point is doubly important because it can be very difficult for new trainees to trust their judgment - in either direction, too doubting or too trusting. Having a community and mentors is always important.

  • Sam says:

    I know he's removed some journals and publishers from his predatory list.

    And agreed on the predatory meetings. So much spam...

Leave a Reply