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Information about conferences, how to find them and evaluate their suitability.

What are questionable conferences

Similarly to predatory journals, some practices emerged to charge researchers for conferences of little to no scientific value. We call these ‘questionable conferences’, which are sometimes referred to as “predatory”. The main aim of these conferences is to make money for the organiser.

Questionable conferences can be difficult to identify as they appear legitimate; with websites often listing a venue, submission process and a board of high-standing academics. Questionable conferences are sometimes organised by the companies behind predatory journals, which means conference papers can be published in these affiliated journals.

Be aware of how questionable conferences can take advantage of academics:

  • The conference simply does not exist.
  • The conference is held concurrently, in the same room, with a large number of other conferences in unrelated fields.
  • The conference is held as described, but with a very small number of attendees and a distinct lack of organisation.
  • Prominent experts can be listed as board or committee members without their approval, or even knowledge. 

Why is this bad

Questionable conferences are at best a waste of time; at worst they can be damaging to the individual’s reputation as well as the institution. There are several ways questionable conferences can have an impact on individuals and institutions:

Waste of time

  • You will spend time on an event that has no value for your research or career progression.

Waste of money

  • You do not want to spend research funds on travel, accommodation and registration. Questionable conferences will not refund your registration fee under any circumstance.

Damage to individuals’ reputation

  • By being associated with questionable conferences your integrity may come into question.
  • If your conference paper is published in a predatory journal, it may reflect poorly on the quality of your research.

Damage to institutions’ reputation

  • Having research associated with scam conferences will reflect negatively on the quality of the institution’s research outcomes.
  • University ranking may be affected as the outputs from these conferences would not be included into the government research assessment submission.
  • Institutions may become involved if there is legal action against researchers listed as committee members. Listed as conference committee members may be damaging to the associated institutions’ name and reputation.

How can you protect yourself

If you are unsure if you are dealing with a legitimate conference, contact the Librarian team for advice.

  • Check the name of your conference carefully; questionable conferences often use deceptively similar names to reputable conferences.
  • Do not respond to email invitations from questionable conferences, not even to decline.
  • Do not submit papers.
  • Do not agree to serve on the committees.
  • Do not register for or attend the conferences.
  • Google yourself — you might find your name used by those conferences without permission.

UQ Conference Checker will help you identify questionable conferences