There is a growing number of fake scientific conferences that may look legitimate but charge substantial fees and fail to meet the high editorial standards of genuine events. In an article recently published in Technology Networks, Ruairi Mackenzie shares his personal account of attending one of these predatory conferences.
OMICS International were fined over $50 Million in the US for unethical publishing practices, which included fooling scientists into accepting editorial positions and creating their own version of the impact factor.
Presenting as a press attendee, Ruairi was waved through a chaotic registration area to a room of about 50 other participants. The well-respected keynote speaker presented as scheduled but left before his second talk and the next plenary speaker was “missing”. What followed was a disjointed sequence of talks of disparate depth and content with no apparent theme or organisation. Several talks were cancelled because the speakers failed to attend, and the conference schedule was eventually abandoned. One invited speaker, who had been appointed as session chair at the last minute, revealed that a third of the conference’s scheduled presenters had not arrived.
Ruairi quizzed Felix-Martin Werner (the only member of the conference organising committee present) and found that, despite his position, he had not been involved in selecting the speaker line-up. Werner’s first engagement with OMICS was as an editor for one of their journals. Werner was reassured of the journal’s stature by the calibre of his co-editor, Professor George Perry, the acting editor of another highly respected publication. After the conference, Ruairi contacted Perry about his involvement with the OMICS journal. Perry revealed that his complaints about editorial processes were ignored and he had tried to resign on many occasions.
Ruairi notes that predatory organisations might try to entice academics with unrealistically rapid peer-review times and often target early-career researchers, who are eager to publish their work in light of today’s ‘publish or perish’ climate. All potential authors should carefully examine the legitimacy of journals and conferences because, as Ruairi’s report shows, even experienced scientists may be fooled by predatory publishers.
Summary by Marie Chivers, PhD.
Marie Chivers PhD is a pharmacist and a medical/healthcare writer. Marie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.