Skip to content

[ RESEARCH INTEGRITY ] December 2, 2022

How can we fight predatory practices in research?

Conferences provide opportunities for scholars across disciplines and geographical borders to network, connect, and exchange exciting new ideas. When they submit their ideas, researchers trust that these events are a safe and legitimate space. But what happens when they aren’t?

What are predatory conferences?

The term “predatory publishers” was first coined and popularized in 2010 to describe the rogue practices in scholarly communications that had emerged during the previous decade. Publishing predators are organizations that offer quick and easy publication in journals or conference proceedings in exchange for fees. But, if this concept seems too good to be true, it’s because it is. 

In reality, these organizations are solely interested in monetary gain rather than scientific progress. They exploit researchers by presenting as genuine opportunities to share their work with a prestigious audience, despite not actually possessing the network, speakers, or legitimacy that they boast. Predatory conferences, in particular, are often disorganized and poorly-run meetings that accept all submissions without any selection criteria or peer review evaluations methods. In recent years, as public trust in science has waned, these conferences have only risen in prevalence and power, even outnumbering legitimate academic conferences in 2017.


How are they damaging academia?

While predatory conferences can be disastrous for researchers, they can also negatively affect the scholarly world as a whole. Learn more about the different ways these illegitimate meetings threaten various academic stakeholders.


Societies and Publishers

As predatory conferences grow in prominence, it becomes harder for societies and associations who host legitimate events to gauge interest, gain attendees, and make their mark. Predatory conferences prey on the same students, researchers, and experts that legitimate events rely on to keep their organizations afloat. Now that these fraudulent meetings have outnumbered the authentic ones, the pool of potential conference attendees even for legitimate events has gotten smaller and more skeptical. When conference attendance dwindles, the world misses out on critical early-stage ideas, making it more difficult for organizations to predict the content of future journal articles and forecast the trends that will shape the future of science. In this trickle-down effect, predatory conferences have a real and detrimental impact on scholarly progress and the academic publishing market.



Researchers are the backbone of academia and scientific inquiry. These individuals put time and energy into making discoveries, conducting studies, and forging new paths in science. Unfortunately, when researchers fall prey to predatory conferences, all of this hard work often goes out the window. What’s more, the money spent on submission charges and travel expenses drains researchers of the financial resources that they need for funding.

One researcher based in the UK spent roughly £800 to register and travel to an event in Denmark before realizing it was fake: “We came across the event by googling it – if you’re looking for a niche conference and happen upon it, everything looks quite legitimate.” 

Predatory conferences and journals capitalize on researchers looking to network and share their ideas amidst a world that screams “publish or perish.” These events often attract early-career researchers and those from low-income backgrounds who are more likely to seek opportunities to gain professional experience.


General Public

This year, the scientific community has come together to promote research integrity. But with the recent rise of retractions, plagiarism cases, and more, restoring public trust in research is still an uphill battle. When predatory conferences and journals skip a selection and peer review process, they open the door to inaccurate and fraudulent information to be shared throughout the world. This can warp the media and public’s understanding of science and have negative effects on individuals who rely on these findings to make personal or political decisions. It can also damage the understanding of specific academic disciplines and general trust in valid scientific ideas.

The growth of predatory publishers has also resulted in more concerns surrounding the efficacy of the open access (OA) movement. OA practices within research help to increase transparency and boost the public’s access to key information, but bad actors who exploit the pay to publish model are now threatening the movement’s legitimacy.



While there have been efforts to punish the organizations that lead predatory conferences and journals, it’s much more actionable for researchers to take matters into their own hands. Taking the time to research a society and organization, looking at their sponsors, and browsing their website thoroughly can save you time, money, and headaches. 

Even further, once we get rid of the “publish or perish” mentality and encourage more collaboration instead of competition, predatory journals and conferences will no longer be able to easily target researchers desperate to stand out within a crowd of competitors.

Owl looking at viewer with message on research integrity