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There are many "international conferences" that seem predatory (with a high degree of certainty). They usually provide a space for you to talk about any general issue you consider worth mentioning. In short, it's pure punk. To some degree, this is really nice... For a relatively reasonable fee, you are able to speak about anything you wish. Yet, if they are regarded as predatory, you might risk leaving a mark on your research.

BUT, the thing is, what if you have to attend some of these conferences because of bureaucratic reasons? Reputable conferences you usually go to were cancelled for this year and your university requires you to attend at least 3 conferences a year, while no other reputable conferences remain.

  • If you need to attend such conference, is sending just an abstract harmless, in the context of future publication possibilities?
  • Do editors look at your abstract-publication (OR paper-publication) history in these conferences?
  • If you wish to publish an abstract only, shall you make it the least comprehensible as possible such that it seems as a really niche topic? Or go with the generally generalized idea such that you do not say anything new or concrete at all?

Further questions:

  • If you have to send a paper, is it better to send bullshit paper that is completely irrelevant to anything you do or is it better for you to still send just negligible part of your work (approx. 0.01 %) that does not pose threat to self-plagiatorizing oneself in future?

  • If you can speak foreign language that almost no one speaks (as I do), is it better to publish a paper in your language if such conference allows it, almost guaranteeing no serious publisher would be able to read it?

  • What do other attendees get from these conferences? Do you risk someone trying to steal your work? Or do you risk no one being interested in what you want to say?

  • If you have the money and you just want to say few things to some people (OR to look around the world), where is actually the problem?

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    Hi, please stick to a single question per post. Thanks.
    – user438383
    Jul 7, 2023 at 8:50
  • If you have the money and you just want to say few things to some people (OR to look around the world), where is actually the problem? Because no one attends these conference to listen other people, attendance is only to have something in their cv. If you want to talk with people. it is cheaper to write the people asking if you can give a talk at their department. Or to go to "non-predatory conferences"
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 8, 2023 at 11:14

2 Answers 2

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So I'll tackle your last question first since the answer is a bit philosophical.

If you have the money and you just want to say few things to some people (OR to look around the world), where is actually the problem?

This is an interesting read on the subject of "predatory" conferences.

They exist because researchers need to get x number of presentations per year and many can't (or won't) go to larger, more reputable conferences. I think they are undoubtedly harmful to science as a whole. They clog up the works and I think they take advantage of those not experienced enough to recognize them.

Practically (and I suspect you know this already), the issue with predatory conferences is that they are often just crappy, phoned-in, and expensive (for what they are). There is no quality control, no real attempt at putting together a useful lineup of speakers, spam-y marketing tactics, and a distinct lack of transparency and academic integrity. While you may be submitting decent work, others may not be. There are certainly those who would pay to take advantage of the non-existent standards (this is arguably a big reason they are so prolific). So really, these conferences are not so different from predatory journals.

This is all to say that I don't like these conferences and would not recommend anyone attend and give the companies that run them any money or legitimacy. By doing so, you condone their lack of academic integrity. There are enough predatory journals, publishers, and conferences out there already (and untold thousands of bad papers as a result), we need to crack down on them not encourage them.

In your case, I suppose you have to do what you have to do to keep your job safe. So all of the above is a bit of a moot point.

But that's just me on a soap box. To answer your main questions generally, I do not think that sending an abstract off to one will actually harm you personally. Unless a substantial portion of your CV is made up of presentations/publications in predatory (or otherwise very low quality) venues, I would imagine most would just pass right over the one or two less-than-stellar ones. On top of that, I would not expect an editor to dig through your entire publication history anyway, there is just not the time for that (and really, a manuscript should be judged on its' own merits).

That being said, I would not send complete BS (even if it would be accepted without question). I think there is an element of personal integrity to this, you shouldn't let the venue dictate your standards for the work. Plus, you never know when someone might pick an abstract/presentation/publication to randomly read into. The perfect thing for a conference like this is some old dusty project or idea that hasn't gone anywhere and isn't interesting enough send somewhere impressive but can still be written up nicely.

I can't speak to your questions about submitting to a conference in another language. I suspect that it would not make a difference (unless perhaps you can find a more reputable conference that is just less mainstream).

As for what others get by attending, well they get the same thing as you - an easy publication/presentation. I would imagine that attendees could be anybody ranging from students who didn't quite realize the conference was considered low-quality to established researchers who just need another presentation on their CV to check a box. I'm not sure what the chances of someone stealing your ideas are. I'd guess that it would be no more or less likely than if you presented anywhere else. I suppose one could argue that you might be more likely to encounter a researcher with weak ethical standards, but personally I don't think that is a fair assumption.

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    I would like to thank you for this advice. I went to 2 (almost) predatory conferences and decided to send serious work. It felt better as I was able to speak about something I am interested in, so I could speak confidently and de facto impromptu. I guess, the personal integrity is not as expensive as I have initially thought. It had also additional advantages such as being able to do thought experiments within the topic, searching for ways how to present the topic in an entertaining way such that I enthuse people who have no knowledge or interest in the topic. This seems as a dominant strategy
    – Athaeneus
    Sep 26, 2023 at 13:54
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These conferences are made for people like you, who work at institutions which require some academic output, and define that output as publications or attendance to a conference to present your work. You provide the money, the conference organizers provide the certificate of attendance. That is the end of the interaction. You can submit anything, in any language, about any subject.

The stated purpose of your institution's policy is likely to have you produce research, however misguided their metrics might be. So by going to these conferences and not actually presenting research results, you are defrauding your institution. However, and following your comment, it is also true that many institutions put their researcher in an impossible position: you must publish something, attend conferences, advice students, etc., but then they provide zero support to achieve those means. So I guess that you must play the game as the game is laid out to you.

Then to answer your questions: can't you just write a BS abstract, talking about whatever you know and point to future areas of research? As a friend once told me, bullshit is to academia like dust is to a farmer. So why can't you write something in the jargon of your discipline, something that the bureaucrats at your institution won't understand, but that will also not disappoint a future editor (as per your question.)? I'd just do that.

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  • I think there is a strong divide between printing own certificate and attending something. The thing is, how does publishing sole abstract defraud the institution as there are no publication points for abstract anyway? You got one thing wrong, though, as you say that It is safe to assume that the purpose of your institution's policy is to have you produce research, since the problem lies in a different spectrum: The purpose of attending these conferences is not to produce research but to literally burn money (as nothing must be left - that is the reason for 3 conferences a year).
    – Athaeneus
    Jul 7, 2023 at 9:06
  • The purpose of attending these conferences is not to produce research but to literally burn money You've got a point there.
    – Cheery
    Jul 7, 2023 at 9:37
  • To cheery.beach7701: Yes, I know. The thing is, why is everyone (you and the comenter) so salty about that? I am stuck in this situation, most probably due to previous wrong life choices, but that does not change that I am stuck with that... I am trying to ask an honest question, if I am situated in shitstorm like this (I have a package of money that cannot be left unburnt), how to do it the most efficiently, such that the harm to myself and to the society is minimized.
    – Athaeneus
    Jul 7, 2023 at 9:43
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    I changed the answer. I think that you are right. One must make a living and choose battles. Bureaucracies are one tough beast.
    – Cheery
    Jul 7, 2023 at 9:46

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