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My PhD advisor and I wish to participate to a specific international conference in our field.

The program seems legitimate and part of the scientific committee are respected researchers of my field, with whom we have already worked in the past. Therefore I am not questioning the academic relevancy of the conference.

On the other hand, the organization is operated by a company, and I am not at ease with their methods. Mainly, the registration fee (500€) must be paid before submitting any abstract and it is not possible to know whether the abstract has been accepted before committing.

Beside the frustration (a conference is a big investment in our budget), I find this unusual, if not fishy. This is the first time my advisor is confronted with the situation, and they are conflicted about this too.

As a side point, their privacy policy includes an agreement to transmit my academic information to "marketing partners", which I am not at ease either.

Should I be worried?

EDIT after investigating a bit more. The organizer is not exactly a company, but a "non-profit private organisation".

UPDATE after contacting the organizers. The website actually gives the option to pay later, as long as the registration is placed. Ultimately, the admission decision will be issued before the payment deadline, although that was not apparent unless you create an account and place the order first.

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    Have you asked the members of the scientific committee about the conference? Perhaps they can explain the reasoning behind the registration fee (and confirm whether or not the conference is legit). – Emma Jun 14 at 10:37
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    I would be worried. – Buffy Jun 14 at 10:42
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    A list of questionable conferences : libguides.caltech.edu/c.php?g=512665&p=3503029 . Check the conference title here! – Eilia Jun 14 at 12:24
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    Things like the IEEE and APS (American Physical Society) are also private incorporated organizations and hold completely legitimate conferences. If the conference has been ongoing for some time, and is known in the field, and attracts people you know year after year, then it is likely just fine. Why do you want to go to this conference in particular? – Jon Custer Jun 14 at 13:53
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    OK, so do you know those speakers? Have they attended the conference in the past? If so, ask them about the conference and how it all works. – Jon Custer Jun 14 at 14:23
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€500 is within the normal range for an international conference, but the mandatory subscription before getting the notification of acceptance is indeed a bit suspicious.

However there are some conferences which work in the following way: pretty much any abstract submitted is accepted (except if out of scope, I guess) and is supposed to be presented at the conference. The selection process happens when a subset of the abstracts are accepted for publication as a full paper in a journal issue. I'm not very familiar with this setting myself, but I assume that it might make sense for such a conference to make sure that the authors attend and present their work even if it's not selected for the journal issue.

  • Interesting. I should say at this point that the conference's website does not mention any such selection process. – Alexis Jun 14 at 12:17
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    @Alexis I'd say it's worth sending an email to the organizers about this peculiar setting, simply asking them the reason why registration is mandatory this early in the process and whether they would reimburse the fee in case your abstract is rejected. – Erwan Jun 15 at 14:18

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