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Your publishing plan

Conferences: The how-to-choose guide

Opportunities to attend and present at conferences, like opportunities to publish in new journals, have proliferated over the last few years.

Have you received unsolicited emails with invitations to present at or attend conferences? How do you verify the quality of the conference or organisers when the invitations contain impressive names, associations with prestigious organisations, rapid publication options and appear to be held in attractive locations? These conferences are often organised by for-profit companies, exploiting the Publish or Perish pressure among researchers and their eagerness to communicate their research.

Red flags, tips and tools

Deakin University Library has summarised the issues for you, highlighting the signs to watch out for and tips and tools to use to counter the 'red flags'. 

Reputation of the conference organiser is questionable.

Common red flags related to the reputation of the conference organiser include:

  • Unknown to your research community.
  • Organised by for-profit company rather than credible scholarly or professional community.
  • Provides false or unclear information on organisers and editors.

Tips and tools:

The quality of a conference is often associated with the reputation of its organisers and editors.

  • Ask colleagues and peers if they've heard of the conference. Be wary if no one in your field has head of a conference which targets the same audience.
  • Cross check the organisers' and editors' information on the conference website against information available elsewhere, i.e., Google individuals' and organisations' names to verify they are indeed associated with the conference.
  • Similarly verify the claims that they're organised, associated with, or sponsored by, well-known organisations or individuals.

The conference name is too similar to other well-known conferences.

Tips and tools:

NB: Be cautious if the conference has a suspiciously similar name with other well-known conferences. Predatory conferences, like predatory journals, are known to 'hijack' legitimate conferences. (see COPE's discussion document on Predatory Publishing)

The promotion of the conference is too aggressive.

Common red flags related to the promotion of the conference include:

  • Use of unsolicited emails spamming prospective attendees.
  • Use of overtly ambitious language describing the prestige of the conference and its organisers and editors.

Tips and tools:

  • Most credible conferences will send out calls for papers through known email lists, networks or society/community groups. Be suspicious of unsolicited spam emails.
  • Check out and subscribe to a call for papers from reputable conferences at Research Professional (via Deakin Library). It provides information about conference call for papers with deadlines, which are issued by professional bodies, journal editors and other scholarly organisers in all disciplines across the world. You can search or browse by subject.

The conference website seems dubious. 

Common red flags related to the conference website include:

  • Contains poor grammar or spelling errors.
  • Lacks credible information on the conference program, venue and organisers' and editors' contact details.
  • No record of previous conferences.
  • Unstable website.

Tips and tools:

Check the conference website:

  • Language should be professional and clear.
  • Information on conference program, venue and organisers' and editors' contact details are clearly presented. NB: Be wary of conference organisers without professional or official emails and physical addresses or with fake phone numbers.
  • Previous conference information or proceedings should be easy to locate if the conference has been run before (see Conference Proceedings resources below).
  • The website URL should have a stable domain. NB: Many credible conferences use a stable URL domain (e.g., vala.org.au), rather than subdomains (e.g., cardiology.conference.com).

No peer review or unrealistically rapid peer review is promised.

Common red flags related to peer review include:

  • Unrealistic peer review turnaround time is promised, e.g., less than two weeks.
  • No peer review process is offered.
  • Acceptance is guaranteed.

Tips and tools:

The peer review process takes time and is critical for scholarly conferences. The acceptance of your paper should be based on quality peer review results, rather than guaranteed upon submission.

Check conference peer review information on their website or at:

NB: Be cautious if the conference is not listed in any of the databases. Be suspicious if fees suggest acceptance of paper. 

The publication of the conference proceedings is of low or questionable quality.

Tips and tools:

The quality of the conference proceedings and its associated journal is critical.

Evaluate the quality or citation impact of the conference proceedings or associated journal using the following databases:

  • Scopus (via Deakin Library) -- Search 'document type = conference paper/review'.
  • Web of Science (via Deakin Library) -- Select 'Conference proceeding citation indexes'.
  • Google Scholar metrics (free) -- Included for selected conferences.

NB: Scopus and Web of Science only index a small number of conferences which meet their strict selection criteria.

Check whether the conference or its associated journal is included in:

 

Recommended resource: Think, Check, Attend

Think, Check, Attend: Choosing the right conference to attend and present your research is an international initiative introduced by Knowledge E, which aims to guide and assist researchers and scholars to judge the legitimacy and quality of conferences and make strategic decisions on which conference to attend and present.

Consulted resources

Campell, B. (2019). 9 sings a conference is fake. Retrieved from https://www.exordo.com/blog/9-sings-this-is-a-fake-conference/.

  • This blog post summarises 9 signs of questionable conferences and provides tips on how to identify them.

COPE Council. (2019). COPE discussion document: Predatory Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.3.6

  • COPE is the Committee on Publication Ethics. With this discussion document it seeks to address the phenomenon of predatory publishing generally and the associated predatory conferences and proceedings, by providing a background to its rise and the information that researchers and academics can use to arm themselves when confronted with unsolicited emails making offers and requests to present and publish.

Eaton, S. E. (2018). Avoiding predatory journals and questionable conferences: A resources guide. Calgary, Canada: University of Calgary. Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/106227.

  • This article provides an overview of the key characteristics of questionable and predatory conferences and journals. It also provides a list of practical strategies to help researchers to identify and avoid questionable and predatory conferences and journals.

Enago Academy. (2019). Tips on how to identify and avoid predatory conferences. Retrieved from https://www.enago.com/academy/tips-identify-avoid-predatory-conferences/.

  • This blog post offers some practical tips on identify and avoid predatory conferences.

Wikipedia. (2020). Predatory conference. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_conference.