Otto Muskens Otto Muskens 30 September 2012

“Predator” conferences and open-access publishers

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Posted in Conferences, Getting published, Miscellaneous

This week I received the following email stating “The purpose of this letter is to formally invite you, on behalf of the Organizing Committee, to be the speaker at the upcoming “2nd International Conference on Nanotek and Expo” (Nanotek-2012).” This sounds very much like a desirable invited talk in my area of expertise, nanotechnology. The website of the organizer, OMICS looks good and the organization seems associated with a list of proper scientists as keynote speakers and members.

For most of us however red flags go up when reading these kind of emails. I receive several similar emails each month from companies like BIT Life Sciences. Many of my colleagues received exactly the same invitations and they are generally not very well aimed; I tend to get a lot of invitations outside my field. There seems to be a rapidly increasing number of companies which, according to their own websites, produce a large number of journals and conferences in different areas of science and medicine. These companies have clearly identified a source of income in the form of scientific budgets, and are trying to exploit the blind ambition of many scientists to present their results at high-profile conferences. In addition, the author-pays policy of open access turns out to be an easy source of income and bogus publishers are lining up to publish our scientific data in hundreds of new open-access journals with virtually no peer-review but high publication fees.

Based on their apparent financially driven aims and associated agressive marketing strategy, such companies are categorized as “predatory”. It appears that the organizers and journal editors seem primarily interested in filling their pockets with money from those willing to pay conference fees and open-access publication costs. I would identify a conference ‘bogus’ based on the following criteria

  • The conference is organized by a commercial entity aiming to make a profit by filling up as many sessions as possible
  • The conference does not appear to have as a primary goal to bring together a specific community but targets an as broad audience as possible
  • The invitation is not personally sent by an international committee of respectable scientists
  • The conference does not have a long history or is not organized by leading scientists

Most bogus conferences are relatively easy to spot and one has to be naive to fall into this trap. They have overambitious names such as “The First World Conference in …” and boast 30 parallel sessions such as to attract as many speakers as possible for their “invitation to give a speech”. However, to my experience recent invitations such as in the introduction are increasingly difficult to catch. Luckily, thanks to independent bloggers it is possible to get a more accurate opinion about which companies have a bad reputation. A useful list points out the predatory publishers and conference organizations.

Now if sufficient scientists respond to these emails, a proper conference may be formed which may even obtain some form of credibility.  Probably the best solution will be for everyone to avoid supporting these conferences so that they will not gain ground and perhaps eventually will die out altogether. It will be useful for the community if someone who has visited such a conference will speak up and shares his / her experiences, whether they are good or bad.

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  1. Unregistered

    3 Feb 2013 16:08, Shan

    For life sciences, If a journal is not pubmed or isi listed, don’t bother. Our group will only publish in non-listed journals as a favor to a friend editor.

  2. Unregistered

    27 Feb 2014 14:04, mrgs


    I have received three “invitations” to speak at an OMICS-affiliated conference during the last weeks, all of which I declined. Is there any evidence such a “conference” is actually taking place, and if so, if it’s ever more than a bunch of random people?

    Judging from their “targeting” methods and the overly generic descriptions of their products, OMICS does not seem to be capable of run a publishing house or any serious conferencing.


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