Beware Predatory Conferences

Yet again someone approached me (this time on Linkedin), and wasted our mutual time on something that turned out to be yet another predatory conference. If you are new to academia or in other ways trying to get your works networked and noticed, beware these increasingly growing predatory conventions that now outnumber legitimate conferences! The latest one to waste my time briefly, not on any of the watch lists (until now), is the Global Forum of Education and Learning (GFEL), and the batch of related events by the same organization Prism Events Inc.

If "You have been nominated for the award of ..." from an unknown organization or an award you have never heard of, beware.

I get contacted about these supposed awards, speaking, convention, conference, panel, and networking opportunities quite frequently. Most speaking requests I get are legitimate, but I just don't have time due to my very full schedule to follow up on about 99% of them, but also too often many of these are bogus attempts to lure people into paying to attend a convention "at a dramatically discounted rate for our special award nominees".

Scam alert! Beware! Risky! Not legitimate! Illegitimate! These conferences are especially good at luring in early-career researchers, especially those from developing countries!

Just to let people know, I no longer pay to attend conventions or conferences. For non-profits I will sometimes come speak or participate free of charge to support the non-profit event's efforts, but most of the time events pay me to speak, participate in panels, run workshops, etc.

For larger for-profits, my rate, depending how far away the event, is a minimum of $1,000 USD per speaking session, plus either paid room and board, or per diem (amount varies depending on the specifics of the location). Talk shows are a completely different topic.

Some of the legitimate professional conferences I do pay a small up front registration fee, especially the smaller non-profit organizations, but there is a signed contract indicating how they will reimburse later depending on how their event goes.

WorldCon has a quasi "profit" sharing model, where you pay initially, and then depending on how much you contribute/speak, after the event is over, whatever money is left is distributed across different individuals as appropriate (in addition to people raising money to sponsor covering my travel, hotel, food, and other costs).

But what if you are someone who is not yet established? Why would you want to avoid some of these conventions that are "legitimate" as far as there will be hundreds, or thousands of people there. There will be legitimate businesses there. These _are_ great networking opportunities. That is one of the greatest benefits of these conferences and conventions, networking. And if they are reaching out to you just trying to encourage you to sign up, that is fine, and totally fair and honest.

The dishonesty and predatory meeting part kicks in when they offer the potential (or actual) awards that have no actual value. Beware!

The latest one that led to me finally writing about this annoyingly increasing trend, is from the Global Forum of Education and Learning (GFEL) . This is one of many similar international gatherings organized by Prism Events, Inc.   

I don't have time in my busy schedule to reiterate the deailed checklist. I let their contact person run on, and they checked off everyone on the checklist that confirms this is indeed a predatory event.

This does not mean it is not going to happen. There may very well indeed be another convention with thousands of attendees. And if you don't mind paying $1,999.00 USD registration (or if nominated "only" $1,499.00 USD) to attend other people suckered into the event, it can be a great networking opportunity.  Just don't be fooled by nomination or awards process.

Also beware any people out there touting these awards in their Linkedin, resume, CV, or other profiles. They are either blissfully ignorant, or else dishonest.

Fortunately, as a bit more experienced speaker, I only lost a few minutes of my precious time (plus the time writing this up try to help warn others).

When I searched on this event I couldn't find any negative information on either the convention itself or the underlying company, even though they have been running these events for a few years now successfully. This likely means they may be making use of reputation management services scrubbing any negative information from search engines and resources, so if you actually find this posting from  a search, let me know, because I will be surprised if they don't file a scrubbing process of the search engines to bury this information. 

Here are some great resources if you want to learn more about Predatory Conferences, lists of known predatory events, and other resources to help you weed out these dishonest individuals and organizations.