Attending medical conferences is an important part of a healthcare provider’s career. It provides an invaluable opportunity to earn continuing medical education credits, which are essential for licensure and certification, as well as membership in prestigious medical societies. It is also a great chance to refine skills, network with experts in the field as well as peers, and keep up to date with the latest medical trends and technology. But, unfortunately, not all conferences are what they appear to be. In recent years, the number of predatory or fake conferences has grown. Publishers and organizers will often send unsolicited, flattering emails to unsuspecting healthcare professionals. These often continue whether you accept the invitation or not, and do not offer easy opt-out solutions. Physicians, researchers, and other healthcare providers may be asked to submit their abstracts or papers, which are then published (for a fee) with none of the traditional services offered by established publishers, such as editing, peer review and archiving.
Fake conferences are often organized by these predatory publishers and organizers. They spotted a money-making opportunity knowing the importance of attending and speaking at medical conferences for a healthcare provider. Organizers often reach out in the same way, through unsolicited emails. Attendees and speakers may end up paying huge registration fees, as well as travel fees to the conference. The organizer then makes money not only from these registration fees but also by bundling hotel and transportation fees, program materials, meals and other hidden fees. The conference itself is often not the prestigious international event that was promised. There may be few attendees at all, and often the advertised speakers are also not in attendance. These organizers have been known to list high profile speakers to lure in attendees, but the panel of speakers is fake as well. It is crucial for conference seekers to do their research first to make sure they do not fall prey to this scam.
One group working to educate conference goers is Think. Check. Attend. They are an international initiative that aims to guide and assist researchers and scholars when choosing trusted conferences to attend and to present their research. They offer checklists to help answer important questions and help determine the legitimacy of any conference such as:
- Are you aware of the society or the association organizing this conference?
- Have you or your colleagues attended this conference before?
- Did you check the conference website? Can you find all the information presented in a proper way such as the (attendance fees, submission date, conference date, editorial committee, program details, venue)?
- Have you read any papers from this conference proceedings before?
- Is the Committee clear about the editorial control over presentations and the type of peer-review it uses?
- Is the publisher of the proceedings a member of a recognized industry initiative such as COPE, DOAJ, OASPA?
Doing research first and speaking with colleagues and other conferences attendees, in person and online, is an integral step in protecting yourself from getting scammed by a fake conference. Pay attention to the minor details in the invitation and materials, such as grammar, venue details, etc. Sometimes these predatory publishers have journals with titles that closely resemble reputable journal titles. Pay attention to the details. Research the journal’s credibility, review the archives, check for the editorial process.
eMedEvents hosts the largest database of Continuing Medical Education events worldwide. Search by speaker, conference organizer, specialty, and location. Find the eMedEvents app on your smartphone as well, and organize all your CME on the go!