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In Australia we follow something known as the ERA ranking, when submitting papers to journals and conferences. My lab stresses publication in venues which are graded as only A or A(star), as per this system ( ERA-A increases possibilities of funding). In the area of biomedical engineering there is a specific conference which I found is ranked as ERA-A. Not a lot of international biomedical conferences are ERA A-ranked.

The problem is I found a lot of negative reviews about the conference organizers online and therefore am skeptical about sending my paper there. Yet, I also know that an ERA-A rank publication very early in my doctoral program can make a good impact on the committee, when my doctoral assessment review comes up later this year. Moreover, this will release some pressure/tension in terms of the doctoral review and I could go on to work on larger targets without worrying about the doctoral assessment ( since it would be considered good progress if I can show an ERA-A paper in the first year of my program).

However much I try, I have failed to understand how this conference gets a top australian rank, when there are so many negative things said online about these conference organizers. One possibility, is that this particular conference is the only one which may be famous. The other is a lot australian academics might have been ranking it as ERA-A. But if so, why only Australia? What does the rest of the world say? The third possibility is that the online reviews are dubious claims made to malign the organisation.

How to evaluate the quality of a conference like this?

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    This question appears to attract a lot of unsubstantiated answers, probably from the same people who created the websites mentioned in the post. I am therefore going to generalize it following this answer and delete the answers that don't provide any useful information about conferences with these characteristics. – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 21:43
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You shouldn't take the ERA rankings too seriously. Ranking ten of thousands of journals was an enormous job, and they did amazingly well given the size of the task. However, in the process they made a few questionable judgment calls and every once in a while an outright mistake.

For example, in my field of mathematics, the list of A-rated journals looks rather good overall, but there are a few surprises and at least one journal I am convinced doesn't remotely deserve an A (Fuzzy Sets and Systems).

I'd recommend asking your advisor or other faculty members for their opinion about the IASTED biomedical engineering conference (rather than relying on opinions from random people on the internet). If they are familiar with it, then they should have an opinion about whether the ERA A rating is well deserved. If they aren't familiar with it, then that is itself a bad sign. Not being familiar with a C journal in your specialty is understandable, but not being familiar with a genuine A journal would be more surprising.

You can also investigate it yourself. Have they published any papers you've read or seen cited? Can you find any papers in their proceedings that impress or excite you? If so, then at least your paper would be in good company. If not, then that's another bad sign.

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After taking a look at some of the feedback online, I would say your third possibility is correct. The websites speaking against IASTED sound as if they were all created by the same person/people, and they appear to be using keyword spamming to defame IASTED conferences. Actually, the malicious websites I saw were attacking not only IASTED, but the IEEE, WORLDCOMP, and several other major conferences.

The BioMed series is in its eleventh year, and is technically cosponsored by the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. In fact, the IEEE EMB has been involved in many of the past iterations as well. Just a quick look at the information from last year’s conference (http://www.iasted.org/conferences/pastinfo-791.html) shows established speakers from credible universities, including the chair, Prof. Aldo Boccaccini. I have colleagues who have worked on IASTED conferences, and they will attest to the double-blind peer review and plagiarism checks in place.

I would trust the ERA rating; agencies like this are very careful as to which conferences they will endorse. Hope that helps!

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    I agree that a lot of these websites look like they're written by the same person/people, so they can't be considered independent evidence. However, it's not clear to me that they are necessarily malicious (in the sense of deliberately spreading false information). I know nothing specific about IASTED or WORLDCOMP, but there are indeed a lot of junk conferences out there. The IEEE complaints raise a genuine issue: the IEEE makes money by hosting proceedings from some very questionable conferences (in addition to many good ones), and it's reasonable to complain about that. – Anonymous Mathematician May 15 '14 at 14:05

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