ArticlePDF Available

Cost-benefit assessment of congresses, meetings or symposia, and selection criteria to determine if they are predatory

Authors:

Abstract

Not a single day goes by in which academics receive one or more emails inviting them to attend a congress, meeting or symposium (CMS). Increasingly, most of these invitations are for attending CMSs that lie beyond the scope of their fields of research, and are usually characterized by images of grandeur and finesse, enticing the invitee with claims of international status, the pompous nature of the steering committee, or the meeting’s sheer size and dimension, including a list of famed participants. In other cases, emphasis is placed instead on the exotic nature of the location, and the invitation often sounds more like a travel brochure than an invitation to join a professional CMS. In several cases, a promise to publish the CMS proceedings in an indexed database is made. It is difficult to judge the veracity and significance of such meetings at a distance, even more so through an email. However, when the balance sheet is drawn up, and the costs are assessed, including of travel, accommodation and meals, it is clear to see that most CMSs are simply traps to make money, and that true academic discovery is a secondary, or more distant, objective. This article draws readers’ attention to the need for making a cost-benefit analysis based on the criteria that we present before deciding on whether to attend a CMS, or not.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th Special Article
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4): 259-265.
Cost-benefit Assessment of Congresses, Meetings or Symposia, and
Selection Criteria to Determine if They are Predatory
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA1,*, Shahryar SOROOSHIAN2 and
Aceil AL-KHATIB3
1P.O. Box 7, Miki-cho post office, Ikenobe 3011-2, Kagawa-ken, 761-0799, Japan
2Faculty of Industrial Management, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, 26300 Gambang Kuantan,
Pahang, Malaysia
3Faculty of Dentistry, Jordan University of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 3030 Irbid 22110, Jordan
(*Corresponding author’s e-mail: jaimetex@yahoo.com)
Received: 1 February 2017, Revised: 11 February 2017, Accepted: 17 February 2017
Abstract
Not a single day goes by in which academics receive one or more emails inviting them to attend a
congress, meeting or symposium (CMS). Increasingly, most of these invitations are for attending CMSs
that lie beyond the scope of their fields of research, and are usually characterized by images of grandeur
and finesse, enticing the invitee with claims of international status, the pompous nature of the steering
committee, or the meeting’s sheer size and dimension, including a list of famed participants. In other
cases, emphasis is placed instead on the exotic nature of the location, and the invitation often sounds more
like a travel brochure than an invitation to join a professional CMS. In several cases, a promise to publish
the CMS proceedings in an indexed database is made. It is difficult to judge the veracity and significance
of such meetings at a distance, even more so through an email. However, when the balance sheet is drawn
up, and the costs are assessed, including of travel, accommodation and meals, it is clear to see that most
CMSs are simply traps to make money, and that true academic discovery is a secondary, or more distant,
objective. This article draws readers’ attention to the need for making a cost-benefit analysis based on the
criteria that we present before deciding on whether to attend a CMS, or not.
Keywords: Congress, meeting or symposium (CMS), costs, predatory, scrutiny
The broader academic context of congresses, meetings and symposia
Most scientists appreciate recognition for their efforts. However, in the modern era of science, with
so many distorted and non-academic publishing incentives, including the gaming of the Thomson Reuters
journal impact factor and now the Elsevier/Scopus CiteScore [1], it is rare to find scientists who publish
or research altruistically, and who think only of the pure nature of science, or of science discovery. This is
because such scientists, especially those with noble objectives, would not be able to attract funding to
make their objectives a reality. The sad reality of science is the intricate link between well-funded science
and the success of science publishing, and vice versa. Those who do not publish, or demonstrably show
their productivity, primarily through published papers, will receive little or no funding, and may become
redundant scientists [2]. Such scientists will thus not survive, i.e., they will become victims to science’s
classic “publish or perish” mantra. The phenomenon of publication phishing, using email phishing, in
which unethical publishers take advantage of those who are seeking a home to share, present or publish
their research and studies [3], is a potential business for the organizers of a predatory congress, meeting or
symposium (CMS).
Many universities, striving to improve their visibility [4], still recognize a proceedings paper that
results from a CMS as being a valid scientific publication with academic merit. However, academic trust
Determination of Predatory Congresses
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA et al.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4)
260
in some knowledge-sharing and publication platforms, among them CMSs, is being eroded [5]. In most
cases, the universities’ assumption of academic validity is based on the notion that a CMS is created by
experts, who have an international and renowned background, and properly vetted through peer review,
leading to the publication of a proceedings paper. Some CMS-derived proceedings papers are used as
selection criteria for obtaining a masters or PhD degree, or even research grants, and thus the academic
validity of a CMS must be fully vetted, verified and validated before a scientist becomes an attendee. Any
scientist who has attended a truly scholarly meeting organized exclusively by peers or an academic
society can confess to a productive and stimulating encounter, in which ideas are shared face to face,
exchanged, enhanced and enriched. However, a sector of academics believes that the trustworthiness of
all CMSs is harmed by some predatory or unprofessional CMSs. Very sadly, there is a sector of the fake
or dishonest economy that has seen this weakness in science and is preying upon the desperate need by
scientists and their institutes to publish in order to be perceived as being productive, or important, for
example, the “honor” of being an “invited speaker” [6].
The authors are aware of CMS articles and proceedings that most probably never went through a
proper scientific peer review before presentation and/or publication. Be that as it may, this predatory
behavior has led to the mushrooming of an entire industry of CMSs that are attempting to lure scientists,
and their - or their institute’s - money, through participation as speakers and who are later charged fees to
make a profit for the organizers [7]. One such experience was recently reported by a SpringerNature
Editor-in-Chief, Roger W. Byard, who had been invited to participate in a conference on “coastal zones”
because of his apparent academic standing in a field he had never written about [8]. On a daily basis - and
the numbers will undoubtedly be higher for those who publish more extensively because their emails will
be trawled by bots more frequently - scientists are receiving emails inviting them to CMSs, usually with
enticing, but in many cases non-academic, benefits. A priori, it is evident that a scientist will not attend a
meeting that proves to be boring or bland, so there is always an element of luster, even in valid academic
congresses. By virtue of the very fact that travel has become a luxury only for those with economic
prowess, and that scientists’ travel might be limited to one or few CMSs a year - usually funded by travel
or research grants paid for by universities - scientists also want to ensure that such a trip is not only
academically fulfilling, but also a travel experience with “an all-expenses-paid trip to a vacation
destination” [9]. In the latter, it is implied that culinary, cultural or theatrical aspects of the social program
of a CMS also serve to boost the ambiance with which academic information is shared among
participants. A fun, or diverse CMS can stimulate greater discussion since participants are motivated.
However, if the balance of academic content and fun is distorted, and weigh more heavily towards the
latter, then the true objectives of a CMS become clouded and its academic objectives become diluted.
The emergence and growth of academically questionable congresses, meetings and symposia
We now focus on a few recent events that have cast doubt on the academic nature of CMSs. The
first pertains to costs. No matter how productive a meeting is, one (including the institute where the
traveling scientists are based) has the responsibility of calculating the cost of participation, i.e., the cost
per poster or per oral presentation. A rough estimate of hundreds or thousands of US$, depending on
several factors, for a single poster or oral presentation, is a sign that CMSs are excessive, and pompous,
i.e., still a privilege for the elite academic minority [10]. These issues and concerns become even more
pertinent when tax-payers’ money (i.e., public funding) is involved. Evidently, when scientists have to
fork out large amounts of money for their own CMS, they will no doubt reflect extremely carefully on the
cost-benefit ratio of their investment that will come out of their own pockets. Most likely, self-funded
scientists will rarely attend CMSs. So, when funding is provided by their research institute or donors, and
even more so when such funding is derived from tax-payers’ money, then there needs to be very careful
reflection. When funds are squandered using someone else’s budget, there tends to be a frivolous or
nonchalant attitude. And here, it is the responsibility of research institutes to instill strict and careful
control over the selection of CMSs that are attended by their faculty and staff. Scientists and research
institutes must do a cost-benefit analysis to ascertain whether using hundreds or thousands of US$ per
scientist per meeting is worthwhile for one or two posters or oral presentations, especially given the fact
Determination of Predatory Congresses
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA et al.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4)
261
that open access publishing, social media and online CMSs can achieve the same - or a greater - publicity
effect, at a fraction of the cost. Scientists and institutes that have bad management skills are as much of a
problem - or are a source of the problem - as the fake or predatory CMSs that try to lure their money. As a
result, a scientist and their institute’s reputation may be negatively affected [6].
Such fake or predatory CMSs, which Sorooshian aptly described as “conference wolves in sheep’s
clothing” that “transformed their event into moneymaking machines to collect substantial registration fees
from authors in an unethical manner” [11], form part of a wider budding scholarly black market [5]. In
June 2016, James McCrostie published a provisional list of criteria on the Beall blog to characterize such
predatory CMSs, but the Beall blog has since been terminated on January 15, 2017, so we discuss these
criteria in detail in the last section of this paper. This was preceded, just a few months earlier, by a white
paper [12] representing a cooperative effort by the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers),
Elsevier, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and the IET (Institution of
Engineering and Technology) to hammer out criteria to boost the academic robustness of CMSs. It is
highly likely that this white-paper emerged in response to the IEEE and Springer scandals that involved
the retraction of hundreds of poorly vetted and unscholarly papers [13], or thousands of IEEE meeting
abstracts [14]. These abuses of the scholarly process, including fake peer reviews and abused submission
systems [15] are rapidly corroding trust in the academic veracity of so-called peer reviewed journals, or
proceedings derived from CMSs.
A new aspect of concern relates to the abuse of congresses as a possible depository for fake or
fictional articles, as was recently revealed with the acceptance of a nonsense paper generated by iOS
software into an international conference [16]. The additional problem with that particular case was the
use of a fictitious email account by a professor to complete the submission, highlighting the risks of
submission abuses by scientists, either as hoaxes, or for non-academic mischievous purposes [17,18].
Possible ways to measure, or assess, the predatory nature of a CMS: Suggestions and limitations
Table 1 lists a revised set of criteria originally devised by James McCrostie based on colour coding,
but expanded to include 3 colour codes, instead of two. Several of McCrostie’s initial criteria were,
according to McCrostie, based on a 2015 source: “Drawing partly on the document “Recommended
Practices to Ensure Technical Conference Content Quality”, originally presented by Gordon MacPherson
at the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, June 2, 2015” [19]. The criteria
indicated in Table 1 are not formally established criteria, most likely would require additional input from
a wider range of academics, and would eventually need to have the formal backing of official academic
institutes across a range of countries to legitimize the criteria before they are used for official purposes.
Conclusions
Evidently, fake or predatory CMSs are eroding trust in scholarly communication, because they exist
primarily to attract funding, and the focus on academics is a secondary objective, making it difficult for
junior researchers to determine which conference is legitimate and which is predatory. The marketing
ploys used, however, to attract participants, would lead an invitee to believe the opposite, i.e., that their
participation would be a positive academic advancement. In addition, they impose a real financial burden
on university administrators who are involved in making budgetary decisions. Therefore, all parties
involved in budget planning and execution should pay close attention to the negative consequences of
funding attendance of their academics in predatory CMSs, and implement policies to track and prevent
such unnecessary expenses. The topic of predatory CMSs is still relatively young, and some crude criteria
for determining the predatory nature of such meetings exist, as we have listed above and in Table 1,
based primarily on McCrostie’s lists. Joining such CMSs may constitute a risk to academia, and a waste
of money. We caution readers, however, that only observation of the invitation email or web-site might
not constitute sufficient proof of predatory CMS behavior, and that multiple factors should be taken into
consideration when considering whether a CMS is predatory, or not, and thus worth the investment, both
financially and in terms of dedicated time.
Determination of Predatory Congresses
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA et al.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4)
262
Acknowledgements
The authors thank James McCrostie (Daito Bunka University, Japan) for discussion on this topic,
and for providing explicit permission to use the revised set of criteria set out in Table 1.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
References
[1] JA Teixeira da Silva and AR Memon. CiteScore: A cite for sore eyes, or a valuable, transparent
metric? Scientometrics 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s11192-017-2250-0.
[2] G Sharrock. Communicating spending cuts: Lessons for Australian university leaders. J. Higher Ed.
Policy Man. 2014; 36, 338-54.
[3] S Sorooshian. Publication phishing: A growing challenge for researchers and scientific societies.
Curr. Sci. 2016; 110, 766-7.
[4] M Schulte. Toot your own horn! Share your successes through publication, conferences, awards,
and professional development. J. Cont. Higher Ed. 2016; 64, 133-6.
[5] S Sorooshian. Conference wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sci. Eng. Ethics 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s11948-
016-9788-8.
[6] J McCrostie. Warning: Conmen and shameless scholars operate in this area. Available at:
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/warning-conmen-and-shameless-scholars-operate-
area, accessed February 2017.
[7] JD Bowman. Predatory publishing, questionable peer review, and fraudulent conferences. Amer. J.
Pharm. Ed. 2014; 78, 176.
[8] RW Byard. The forensic implications of predatory publishing. Forensic Sci. Med. Pathol. 2016; 12,
391-3.
[9] M Brooks. Red-flag conferences. Chronicle Higher Ed. 2009. Available at:
https://chronicle.com/article/Red-Flag-Conferences/44795, accessed February 2017.
[10] JA Teixeira da Silva. Are international symposia becoming redundant and elitist? Asian Australas.
J. Plant Sci. Biotechnol. 2013; 7, 114-5.
[11] S Sorooshian. Scholarly black market. Sci. Eng. Ethics 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9765-2.
[12] B Kulamer, W Meester, J Salk, N Blair-DeLeon, G MacPherson, W Moses, A Philippidis, C
Chapman, D Smith, I Stoneham and K Vukmirovic. Recommended practices to ensure technical
conference content quality. Available at: https://www.ieee.org/conferences_events/conferences/
publishing/paper_acceptance_criteria.pdf, accessed February 2017.
[13] RV Noorden. Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers. Nature 2014, DOI:
10.1038/nature.2014.14763.
[14] A McCook. One publisher appears to have retracted thousands of meeting abstracts. Yes, thousands.
Available at: http://retractionwatch.com/2015/06/25/one-publisher-appears-to-have-retracted-
thousands-of-meeting-abstracts-yes-thousands, accessed February 2017.
[15] JA Teixeira da Silva. On the abuse of online submission systems, fake peer reviews and editor-
created accounts. Persona Bioética 2016; 20, 151-8.
[16] E Hunt. Nonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference. Available at:
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/22/nonsense-paper-written-by-ios-autocomplete-
accepted-for-conference, accessed February 2017.
[17] A Al-Khatib and JA Teixeira da Silva. Stings, hoaxes and irony breach the trust inherent in
scientific publishing. Publishing Res. Quart. 2016; 32, 208-19.
[18] JA Teixeira da Silva and A Al-Khatib. The macro and micro scale of open access predation.
Publishing Res. Quart. 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s12109-016-9495-y.
[19] G MacPherson. Recommended practices to ensure conference content quality. Res. Integrity Peer
Rev. 2016; 1, P8.
Determination of Predatory Congresses
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA et al.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4)
263
Table 1 Proposed criteria to identify predatory characteristics in a congress, meeting or symposium
(CMS), or a CMS organizer.
Red level criteria
1. The use of deceit
1.1. Related to the CMS
Claiming to be a non-profit organization when the organizer is a for-profit company.
Hiding or obscuring relationships with for-profit partner companies.
Falsely claiming universities or other organizations as partners or sponsors.
Listing addresses or phone numbers that are nonexistent or false.
Using organization names or addresses that imply they are based in one country or region when in fact
they operate out of a different country or region.
Lying to CMS participants about any aspect of that conference, or not correcting facts.
1.2. Related to the CMS organizers or organizing committee
Falsely claiming the involvement of people on advisory boards or organizing committees.
Using fake names to hide the identity of organizers or their country of origin.
Listing organizers or participants falsely (i.e., non-participants), or listing renowned individuals without
their knowledge or permission.
Failing to list the names, addresses and affiliations of individuals owning or controlling the organization.
Organizers falsely claiming academic positions or academic qualifications.
2. No, inadequate or poorly vetted peer review
Machine-generated or other “sting” abstracts or papers get accepted.
Organizers market CMS as being peer-reviewed when no peer-review occurs, where peers are not true
peers, or where the qualifications of peers are not fully vetted.
CMS is listed as peer-reviewed but peer review does take place or the conference organizing company
uses employees to handle submissions and complete “reviews”.
Peer reviewers read, judge and select proceedings papers based exclusively on abstracts, and with
insufficient credentials or experience to do so, i.e., vetting is absent or inadequate.
Accepting papers for the CMS proceedings that have not been presented at the CMS, either as a poster, or
as an oral presentation.
3. Issues with conference proceedings and publications
The CMS organizer publishes a proceedings that consists of non-peer-reviewed papers.
The organizer promises that papers will be published in an unnamed journal indexed in ISI, SCOPUS, or
some other commonly-used whitelist.
4. Links to other predatory CMSs, publishers or journals
Conference papers get funneled to known or suspected predatory journals knowingly, or unknowingly.
5. Virtual presentations
Acceptance of virtual presentations that are not presented to an audience.
6. Miscellaneous
The conference organizer(s) and/or director(s) possess no or tangential expertise in the conference subject
matter, or whose academic record cannot be verified due to the use of abbreviated names.
Participants are charged additional fees (per author or per paper) when authoring or co-authoring more
than one CMS paper.
CMS organizers cancel the CMS or change the venue at short notice, or without notice.
Orange level criteria
1. CMS ID
The name of the CMS matches or nearly matches the name of another established, respected CMS.
2. CMS proceedings and journal duplication
The CMS organizer allows CMS papers to be published twice (in the official CMS proceedings and a
separate journal published by the CMS organizer without due cross-referencing and citation of the
original).
1
Determination of Predatory Congresses
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA et al.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4)
264
Orange level criteria
3. CMS leadership reputational history
CMS chairs, session chairs, keynote speakers, or CMS proceeding editors have connections to other
predatory CMSs or journals.
2
4. Virtual presentations
Virtual presentation papers get published in CMS proceedings without being identified as such.
Yellow level criteria
1. Fees
The CMS fee is unjustifiably high.
Presenters pay more than attendees.
The CMS organizer focuses more on selling dinners and associated tours than on the CMS program.
2. CMS scope
The CMS is overly broad in scope, or combines radically different fields, e.g., business and engineering.
A single organization holds conferences in very different fields.
The organizer simultaneously holds more than two conferences at the same time and place.
The same conference is held several times a year in different cities.
3. Acceptance of CMS proceedings
Immediate or almost immediate acceptance of proceedings papers.
Regular extensions to the “call for papers” submission deadline or accepting papers after the deadline.
Accepting proceedings papers just a few days before the deadline.
Using undergraduate or master’s students as peer reviewers without oversight from university faculty.
4. Miscellaneous
The CMS organizer regularly sends spam emails to people outside the CMS’s field of focus.
The name of the person or organization acting as the “registrant” for the CMS website or CMS organizer
website is hidden on website registry documents.
The CMS is marketed as a holiday. CMS websites and emails resemble travel brochures rather than CMS
notices.
Opening, officiating, closing, and keynote speeches (if any) are presented by relatively unknown
(globally) scholars (except for where the CMS focuses explicitly on a local audience).
Overuse of the term “international” in the organization name or CMS title when the CMS organizer
and/or attendees overwhelmingly come from a single country.
Awarding best paper prizes before the end of the CMS or awarding multiple “best paper” prizes.
When CMS proceedings are published only digitally, no attempt is made to electronically preserve them.
No attempts are made to distribute CMS proceedings beyond the CMS participants.
CMS organizers create a “society”, “association” or “institute” or some other organization and name it as
the sponsor or organizer of the CMS.
No clear CMS chair or director is identified.
Insufficient contact details for the organizer or CMS, the organization headquarters location is obscured
by using P.O. boxes or virtual offices, or the listed office is in reality a private home.
CMS schedule is overly vague, consisting of only times and the type of activity, e.g., 9:30-10:30 Paper
Session 1. 10:30-10:45 Break. 10:45-11:45 Paper Session 2.
Including logos of data-bases or indexing agencies on CMS websites when no indexing will occur.
CMS websites and/or emails contain several spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, or non-native English.
1This may depend on the copyright permission, CC-BY license, and other factors, including possible
cronyism, links and inappropriate relationships (e.g., friendships) between CMS organizers and journal
editors.
2If only an isolated case, then the link between any individual and an apparently predatory journal or
publisher might not indicate anything at all about that individual. Instead, a consistent pattern of
participation, or support, of academically suspect journals or publishers.
Determination of Predatory Congresses
Jaime A. TEIXEIRA DA SILVA et al.
http://wjst.wu.ac.th
Walailak J Sci & Tech 2017; 14(4)
265
Table 1 notes:
Criteria represent a modified version of a list of criteria provided, with permission, by James McCrostie.
McCrostie’s list will appear in a special issue of the Bulletin of Daito Bunka University, Vol. 56, 2017,
entitled “Developing a Criteria for Identifying Predatory Conferences”. Additional characteristics have
also been added by the authors and several criteria provided by McCrostie have been omitted or modified
for clarity, or to accommodate a 3-colored set of selection criteria. Red level criteria indicate serious
predatory aspects or behavior. It is suggested that even just one of these behaviors merits the label of a
“predatory” CMS. In contrast, yellow level criteria constitute predatory aspects that, in themselves, might
not make the entire CMS predatory, but should raise concerns among academics that plan to attend them.
Orange level criteria show predatory characteristics that are intermediate between red and yellow criteria,
and may need a closer case-by-case analysis. Even though McCrostie suggested that 4 yellow level
criteria would result in a CMS being considered as “predatory”, we believe that a set number of criteria
should not be used initially to make such an assessment, and that each institute establish a committee that
is responsible for vetting and evaluating CMSs using an established level of red, orange and yellow
criteria, beyond which an academic cannot attend that CMS. Similarly, a CMS that displays no red or
orange level criteria, and only very few yellow criteria, could receive institution-based funding, as an
incentive for academics to select carefully. If academic institutes implement such a rigorous and strict
vetting process, the hope is that predatory CMSs will eventually disappear.
... The true identity of a "predatory" journal or publisher, including conferences (Pecorari, 2021;Teixeira da Silva, Sorooshian, & Al-Khatib, 2017), is not entirely known, nor is it easy to clearly define (Grudniewicz et al., 2019), i.e., there exists a grey zone between extremes, even though select cases of extreme predatory behaviour are clear (Manley, 2019). There is much doubt about the "predatory" nature of a journal or publisher, as even suggested by Beall himself, by classifying his profiled blacklisted OA journals and publishers as "potential, possible, or probable" (Kimotho, 2019). ...
Article
“Predatory” publishing is a non-binary academic phenomenon, but personal and professional biases may influence the criteria used to create associated blacklists and whitelists. Academic librarians, as scholarly communicators, play an essential role in transmitting accurate information about “predatory” publishing to students, staff, funders, university management and the public. In this paper, lessons are drawn from the published literature to offer advice to academic librarians about the gray zone in predatory publishing to avoid select misinformation pitfalls. Academic librarians need to recognize the flaws and weaknesses of blacklists and of the criteria used to establish them. By offering accurate insight and advice, academic librarians can establish an effective online warning system to users about “predatory” publishing, allowing them to be more effective scholarly communicators, and not vessels of miscommunication. Academic librarians are essential in aiding the academic community to find solutions to this threat to the literature’s integrity.
... Some authors stress that the concept of predatory publishing lacks clear-cut definitions and criteria. 11 Many experienced researchers, however, can identify a predatory call for proposals, enticing authors to send papers for publication. Most predatory publishers seem to be based in developing countries and aim to attract local authors. ...
... By comparing this set with 395 ranked (using other rating systems) computer science conferences, Meho found that only 30% of conferences with a CiteScore were in the top quartile of that group, suggesting that CiteScore was unable to effectively capture "quality" computer science conferences. However, if a robust association between a metric such as CiteScore and conference proceedings were to be found, that could serve as a precious tool for differentiating "predatory" from legitimate conferences [36]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Elsevier’s (Scopus) CiteScore, a journal-based metric (JBM), has been assigned to more journals than Clarivate Analytics’ Journal Impact Factor (JIF), including journals indexed by Scopus that do not carry a JIF. Unlike JIFs, CiteScore values are openly accessible. The advertisement of CiteScore, like other metrics, by journals or publishers may be in violation of DORA (Declaration on Research Assessment) principles. While use of the CiteScore can provide interesting information about how a journal is being cited, the use of this JBM as a “quality” metric is cautioned.
... Another term that is gaining popularity is "predatory" conference, referring to congresses, meetings or symposia that may display unscholarly or "predatory" characteristics (Teixeira da Silva, Sorooshian, & Al-Khatib, 2017). ...
Article
The issue of “predatory” publishing continues to affect many scholars around the world who publish. When one reads the fairly vast literature surrounding “predatory” publishing, there is an erroneous tendency to continue pivoting around Jeffrey Beall's blacklists of “predatory” open access (OA) journals and publishers. However, to be “predatory” involves much more than defining a handful of select behaviours, and it is becoming increasingly important to start defining, or curtailing, the lexicon to avoid referring to any journal or publisher that might display one of the following qualities (exploitative, deceptive, excessive, unscrupulous, abusive, advantageous, manipulative, profit-seeking, or others) as synonymously meaning “predatory”. This paper focuses mainly on the oft-interchangeable terms “predatory” and “exploitation”, and explores the morality of predatory and exploitative actions by applying a deontological ethics approach which implies that certain actions are wrong even if they achieve good consequences, with the understanding that because a predatory entity aims to exploit others, these actions would be considered morally wrong from a deontologist's perspective. In articulating our argument, we attempt to expand the conversation around this important topic, with the hope that it might bring additional clarity to the issue of what might constitute a “predatory” journal or publisher.
... For example, Brogaard et al. (2014) showed, in a survey exceeding 50,000 papers, how colleagues of editors in 30 finance and economics journals published 100% more when they knew the editor than authors without any association or friendship with the editor. For these reasons, and given the porous nature of critical assessment of editors, who have high responsibilities to the academic base, it has become essential for editors to list their actual or perceived COIs (Teixeira da Silva et al., 2019). However, such relationships might not always constitute a negative relationship or cronyism when trusted colleagues are called upon to assist with peer review, for example, provided that such relationships are properly monitored and managed. ...
Article
Full-text available
A proliferation of publication venues, scholarly journals, use of social media to disseminate knowledge and research results, scientific information, increased international scientific collaboration, a move towards open knowledge and data sharing, recent scandals such as journal editors’ coercive citations, fake peer review, peer review rings, data fabrication, research spin, and retraction of articles, several of the latter within the emergence of a post publication peer review movement, are some of the many reasons why publishing ethics are constantly evolving. These challenges have led to the birth of an increasing number of guidelines and recommendations being issued by multiple organizations and committees around the world in light of the recognized need to salvage peer review, and in an attempt to restore eroding trust in science, scientists and their publications. The principal objective of these guidelines and recommendations is supposedly to provide guidance for editors, reviewers and authors to conduct honest and ethical research and publishing practices, including responsible authorship and editorship, conflict of interest management, maintaining the confidentiality of peer review, and other ethical issues that arise in conducting and reporting research. Despite the fact that scholarly publishing is an international enterprise with global impact, current guidelines and recommendations appear to fall very short on imposing any obligations on their parent members, i.e., committee members who issue guidelines and recommend solutions for ethical dilemmas especially when such organizations are dependent on commercial publishers who may be paying members. Obviously, financial incentives indicate that ethical organizations or ethicists are not in a power position compared to editors or publishers. Imbalanced guidelines risk that hidden conflicts of interest, cronyism, or nepotism may corrupt the decision-making process or the ethical hierarchy that has been put into place to safe-guard research and publishing ethics. Therefore, the ethics gate-keepers to the integrity of scholarly publishing should also be carefully scrutinized, and strict ethical guidelines have to be imposed on them as equally as their rules are imposed on global academia to avoid the risk of further corrupting the scientific process as a result of the absence of strong exterior regulation or oversight. This theoretical paper highlights signs of favoritism and cronyism in ethics. It also offers proposals for rules (limitations and consequences) to avoid them in science publishing. Our guidelines should be used by academics in the position of authors or editors who may sense, perceive or detect abuses of power among ethicists.
... 25). If scholars should declare that their CV is free of "predatory" publications, then by induction, researchers ought to also declare that the CV is free of "predatory" conferences (Teixeira da Silva et al., 2017). Beall (2013) was the first to use the term "predatory meetings" to describe such conferences when he critiqued OMICS for organizing conference meetings. ...
Article
Full-text available
The issue of “predatory” publishing continues in the post-Jeffrey Beall era, especially among open access (OA) journals and publishers. Even though the Beall blog was shut down in mid-January of 2017, there are members of academia and avid Beall fans who wish to see the continuation or resurrection of Beall’s black lists. Although some argue that in this day and age of fake academia, there is a need for clearly vetted blacklists to better guide authors of potentially “predatory” journals or publishers, it can be stated that Beall’s lists are not a solution, nor are the copy-cat sites that have cloned his lists. Others argue that blacklists should not be used at all for assessing the work of scholars. The post-Beall era has left a deep mark of stigmatization, i.e., those who have published in “predatory” OA journals or publishers, as determined by Beall, and now by others, and those who have not. One of the most prominent, well-funded and influential groups at the Center for Journalology at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, in Canada, led by David Moher, a highly cited researcher, has called for academics to clear their curriculum vitae (CV) of “predatory” papers if they have such publications. The Moher group advocates for academics to declare that their CV is free of such “predatory publications”, i.e., papers published in OA journals or publishers blacklisted by Beall, while Mitchell S. Cappell argues in The BMJ that “predatory” papers should be included in a CV but in a separate category. We argue that the advice by both these factions is problematic and encourage academics to list all published work on their CVs, not to be boastful of numbers, but simply to make their CVs accurate and transparent.
Article
The use of blacklists, as those that are employed in academic publishing, is problematic with or without biases, but with biases it is even more troubling. This is a theoretical paper that provides insights into the problems of using blacklists for research or for assessing a scholar’s output. Biases may appear before an investigation is undertaken as well as after. We also explore the case of a low likelihood of including a non-predatory journal in a blacklist and with a decent power of criteria to detect a true predatory journal. In such an “ideal” list, unfortunately the false discovery rate (FDR) increases as the number of qualities postulated pre-study increases. In addition, the FDR will be biased downwards if the assessor deliberately starts with the assumption that the choice is binary (predatory or not) by lumping qualities together. When bias is introduced also at the post-study level, this further increases the chances that many of the predatory discoveries are false. The issue of bias in predatory publishing has not yet been discussed, and the presence of this factor in the debate on this important issue in academic publishing is relevant to all academics today.
Article
Full-text available
Predatory open access journals and predatory conferences’ main purpose is to make profit rather than promoting good science. In Peru, the University Law 30220 asks that professors and lecturers undertake research duties at universities. Hence, nowadays part of this academic staff is required to write scientific articles. However, not all of them are experienced on how to write a scholarly paper. Thus, in the rush to comply with the publication requirements that their individual institutions demand from them, a great number of these professors and lecturers are likely to fall prey of predatory publishing, which already is happening in other developing nations. This publishing method is not only unethical because it produces low-quality articles but also is an egregious mismanagement of the resources that universities allocate to fund research. Moreover, the time and effort that the academic staff put to the production of low-quality papers also completely go to waste. Professors and lecturers who follow these bad practices should be penalized; this also avoids the emergence of fraudulent research authorities. Thus, vice-rectorates for research in Peruvian universities should take corrective or preventive measures to promote the production of high-quality papers by part of their academic staff.
Article
Academic research output is increasing at a very fast growth rate per year. Given this expansion, new publishers will enter the market or existing publishers will introduce new journals to capture the rapidly expanding intellectual contributions in scholarly publishing. It is thus natural that when competing factions, new and pre-existing publishers, vie to capture this expansion that inter-journal and inter-publisher competition arises. This competitive environment may induce unhealthy competition with the use of inappropriate or unacceptable tactics to gain a share of the expanding market. In the recent open access era, questionable review, pricing, managerial and marketing practices by journals or publishers that claim to be scholarly are broadly referred to as “predatory”. One way to capture some of the expanding market is to use unsolicited emails, referred to as spam emails, to attract customers. This method has always been a questionable business practice that imposes costs. In this paper we address issues associated with spam emails, and our conservative estimate of the external costs of spam from publishers and journals amounts to US$ 1.1 billion per year. When all spam emails are included in the calculation, the cost rises to approximately US$ 2.6 billion per year. Academics that respond to spam emails from journals that do not conduct peer review also risk damaging their careers by publishing their intellect in such outlets. Finally, spam emails may include phishing attacks, which also result in financial losses. By making academics aware of these costs we hope measures can be taken by affected institutes to reduce the negative externality of spam emails and offer some potential solutions.
Article
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of China has set forth ambitious goals, as part of its Citation Impact Upgrading Plan (CIUP), to fortify the standing of Chinese academics as well as Chinese academic journals. At present, MOST primarily considers Clarivate Analytics journal impact factor (JIF), which is a proprietary scientometric measure, as a measure of “quality”. Academic publishing is however, starting to move away from metrics such as the JIF that can be gamed, and that do not truly reflect the academic worth of individual scientists, or of journals. Metrics such as altmetrics, which show the paper’s popularity among social media, or a greater balance of metrics, to buffer the monopolized impact of the JIF on metrics-based rewards systems, may be issues that China and MOST need to consider as global academic publishing tends towards a state of open science where open access journals that reach a wider audience may have greater value than journals with a high JIF. Not only are China’s academics well-funded by the state, the Chinese academic market is a highly coveted market by publishers and other parties interested in advancing their academic or commercial interests. Given the current fluid and rapidly evolving state of academic publishing, and the fairly rigid JIF-based rewards system in place in China at the moment, coupled with a recent spate in academic misconduct from Chinese researchers, this letter offers some suggestions as to the need for China to rethink its policies regarding what factors influence academic rewards.
Article
Full-text available
Having found a business opportunity in exploiting the open access publishing model, predatory journals and publishers have been spamming authors with emails, inviting them to submit articles for publication. Authors may be misled by the names of prestigious authors and editors that predatory journals and publishers use to advertise their publishing services, either by claims that those scientists serve on the editorial boards or by sending invitations in their names. Given the fact that detailed knowledge of a journal is required to make an informed decision of whether the inviting journal is predatory or not, junior scientists are not likely to possess the knowledge or skill to make such decisions. In addition, analysis of the details of new suspicious journals and publishers can be a lengthy process or even a waste of time. Therefore, in this paper, we provide an analysis of a likely scenario that many authors are facing nowadays when they take on the difficult task of studying the details of suspicious journals as possible venues for the publication of their research findings. The analysis takes the form of an analysis of the Kenkyu Publishing Group, which is listed on Jeffrey Beall’s list of “predatory” open access publishers.
Article
Full-text available
Many journals and publishers employ online submission systems (OSSs) to process manuscripts. In some cases, one “template” format exists, but it is then molded slightly to suit the specific needs of each journal, a decision made by the editor-in-chief or editors. In the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of cases in which OSSs have been abused, mostly by the authorship, either through the creation of fake identities or the use of false e-mail accounts. Although the abusive or fraudulent authors are at fault in such cases, the fact that such cases remained undetected for so long is of concern. Moreover, the current OSSs are imperfect, have security issues and may not be able to detect false information, except through post-submission verification. Sting operations, which involve the submission of false manuscripts with false identities and false affiliations, are no less unethical, and those who abuse the publishing protocol deserve to be as reprimanded as those who abuse OSSs. Finally, I question the ethics of editors or publishers creating OSS accounts on behalf of reviewers prior to obtaining their explicit permission.
Article
Full-text available
Trust has traditionally been a cornerstone of traditional science publishing. However, events over the past few years, an increase in the number of retractions and the fortification of the vigilant science movement, coupled with better tools to detect and report or publicize misconduct and/or errors in the literature, has revealed that this pillar of trust has in fact not always been present, or has been severely abused or compromised. Further disintegration in the integrity of academic publishing by no or almost non-existent peer review in so-called “predatory” open access publishers has given reason to increasingly distrust the accuracy of the published academic record. Finally, a topic that tends to invoke mixed reactions, but which we feel adds to the overall level of mistrust and erosion of ethical values in science publishing, is the use of stings, hoaxes and irony academic journals. We focus on six such cases, providing a rationale why such studies undermine trust and integrity and why such bogus publications are best left to blogs or non-academic forms of publishing science-related topics.
Article
Full-text available
In this age of hi-tech, there is no longer a good and valid reason to travel across the globe to attend an international symposium. Excessive costs, waste of precious research funding, and a relatively low benefit: cost ratio should allow those who attend congresses and symposia to reflect and rethink their true reasons for attending such meetings. Surely a face-to-face free live chat about a topic of interest with a peer via Skype or Yahoo Messenger would be the most effective way to resolve any queries related to academic issues. Although online conferencing certainly does not beat the ritzy hotel receptions and glamorous gala dinners, it certainly is a thousand-fold more cost-effective. The true reason, in most cases, why many attendees of a conference travel sometimes thousands of miles to deliver one speech or to put up a single poster is the ability to escape the routine, or the freedom to use laboratory or research funding to do so. The excuse given will almost inevitably be that it is an excellent opportunity to network, but the fact is this is easily possible with an e-mail. The truth of the matter is that the world is now in a state of new awareness and consciousness, and those that lie on either extreme of this social, economic and ethical battle, are in a fierce struggle to implement a new dynamic. I am of the opinion that there is a blind failure in economic responsibilities that is leading to the establishment of a congress elite that uses plastic rationale to justify the waste. One key question is: if you were to pay from your own pocket, would you attend an international meeting?
Article
To date, the journal impact factor (JIF), owned by Thomson Reuters (now Clarivate Analytics), has been the dominant metric in scholarly publishing. Hated or loved, the JIF dominated academic publishing for the better part of six decades. However, a rise in the ranks of unscholarly journals, academic corruption and fraud has also seen the accompaniment of a parallel universe of competing metrics, some of which might also be predatory, misleading, or fraudulent, while others yet may in fact be valid. On December 8, 2016, Elsevier B.V. launched a direct competing metric to the JIF, CiteScore (CS). This short communication explores the similarities and differences between JIF and CS. It also explores what this seismic shift in metrics culture might imply for journal readership and authorship.
Article
In some cases, organizing a conference resembles a high-profit business. Some of these conferences are wolves in sheep's clothing. This article draws readers' attention to current examples of such unethical business conferences.
Article
Fake and unethical publishers' activities are known by most of the readers of Science and Engineering Ethics. This letter tries to draw the readers' attention to the hidden side of some of these publishers' business. Here the black market of scholarly articles, which negatively affects the validity and reliability of research in higher education, as well as science and engineering, will be introduced.