Spotting predatory events in the wild
So how can you know if a conference is predatory? Here are a few questions worth asking:
1) Is a single group organizing conferences in completely different fields? Similarly, is the scope of a conference too wide or are a variety of conferences held together in the same hotel on the same weekend? For example, an "International Conference on Arts and the Humanities" would be little use to most serious academics but great for maximizing revenues.
2) Are submissions accepted too soon? Getting accepted to legitimately peer-reviewed conferences takes time. If a proposal gets accepted in a matter of days, or before the call for papers has closed, it's worth investigating further before paying the registration fee.
3) Is the conference marketed like a holiday in the sun? Predatory conferences are often held in tourist destinations, advertised through spam and websites resembling travel brochures, and offer tours.
4) Does the conference fee seem high? Do presenters have to pay more than attendees? Forcing presenters to pay extra to make a speech should be a red flag.
5) Who and where are the organizers? Predatory conferences might not list names of all the people involved, or falsely claim the involvement of legitimate scholars. They may also list phone numbers and addresses that are either nonexistent, private homes or virtual offices. The name of the organization might imply they are based in a Western country when in fact they operate out of a developing country. Or their website fails to mention any address at all.
6) Do conference websites try too hard to give themselves a veneer of legitimacy? Look for websites plastered with a plethora of partner organizations and their logos, especially Google Scholar. Long lists of directors, international members, liaisons, advisory board members and so on should also be examined particularly carefully.
7) Has the organization or conference already been identified as suspicious? Online searches may reveal complaints or suspicions.
8) Are fees sent to a separate private company or an individual rather than the organizer itself? Unfortunately many predatory conference organizers use PayPal, which makes it harder to see where the money is really going.