Saturday, August 19, 2017

Predatory Conferences and Journals

My newest pet peeve is the amount of emails I receive from predatory conference organizers. Many are not even remotely related to what I do and are fairly easy to delete. To make them look more real, they sometimes include the title of one of my publications in the email. My favorite is when they just copy the name of the first author from the publication, assuming incorrectly that this is the corresponding author.

A few however, sound relevant and are located in interesting places.  I wish there was a list of predatory conference organizing companies the way there is a list of predatory journal publishers.

The first one on my list is BIT Congress Inc. These folks are the worst. They are constantly changing their email address so I can't block them. They organize conferences for just about every topic imaginable. They don't even bother to include a fake unsubscribe button. They start their emails with guilt inducing statements like "I'm writing to follow-up on my previous email" or "we've tried contacting you multiple times."

On the predatory journal front, I've gotten used to the daily barrage of emails requesting me to submit articles and serve on editorial boards. Those I can ignore without a second thought. Recently though, a new wrinkle has emerged. These journals are inviting me to review manuscripts for them. The titles and abstracts are included in the requests and some of the manuscripts actually sound interesting and relevant to my field.

I wish they would include the names of the authors so that I could contact them and inquire whether they realize they are submitting to a predatory journal. Are the actual manuscripts much worse than the abstracts suggest? Do the authors not read? Are there other reasons they are submitting to these journals? I guess I could agree to the review, since usually the author names and corresponding author contact info are provided along with the entire manuscript, but it feels unethical as a reviewer to contact the authors. So I just delete the emails without responding. A few times I declined writing back to the editors that I don't review manuscripts for predatory journals like theirs. I've never received a reply in those instances. Internet folks, should I start fake reviewing so that I can contact the manuscript authors?

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