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Choosing & Evaluating Journals, Publishers & Conferences: Evaluating Conferences

This guide provides information on choosing and evaluating journals for possible publication.

Evaluating Conference Announcements & Calls for Papers

Researchers and scholars sometimes receive announcements from groups advertising conferences in exotic locales which are often not related to their field of study. The sample calls for presentations at conferences below are included to provide examples of conferences that might be a cause for concern. Before responding to a call for papers or presentations, look at the invitation and the organizer's web site and analyze the content.

Fake conferences do exist. Read a posting about a fake conference on the Cabbages of Doom blog and another from scimedskeptic on the links between a series of conferences and a publisher.

The information provided below can be used to help evaluate conference announcements to identify legitimate scholarly conferences.

Criteria for Identifying Reputable Conferences

The table below contains information on how to evaluate a conference and avoid fake conferences. It contains Criteria to Check and How to Check those criteria. The third column, Items of Concern, contains examples that might indicate that a conference is less-than reputable. Items in Bold are explained or linked below the table. Suggestion: Open this page in another window to use the resources mentioned in the table.

Criteria to Check

How to Check Items of Concern
The conference announcement is in your field.

Knowledge of subject and the professional organizations in your field.

Check the Scholarly Societies Project to see if the organization is listed.

The conference is not in your subject area (e.g. a humanities librarian invited to an engineering conference).

The announcement is promoted through SPAM e-mails.

The organization is not listed in the Scholarly Societies Project.

Publications from the convening group cannot be found in WorldCat.

The theme of the conference is overly broad (e.g. Conference on Management, Business, Social Sciences and Humanities).

The conference is highly regarded by peers (colleagues, co-workers, advisors or co-authors). Do people you know at other universities attend this conference?

Ask colleagues in your department or field about the conference.

Your peers have never heard about the conference or organization.

The conference is organized or sponsored by a reputable, recognized scholarly organization, or a university or company that is a leader in the field.

Knowledge of subject.

Check the Scholarly Societies Project to see if the organization is listed.

Check WorldCat for publications from the organization or company.

Search NexisUni for information about the company.

Search for URL ownership.

Check to see if the organization is a member of an accrediting body in your field (for an example, see the member societies of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology [ABET]).

The organization is not included in the Scholarly Societies Project list for that subject.

Information on the conference organizer cannot be found.

The organization does not have a separate website that describes their mission and activities.

The conference organizer is a publisher (not a scholarly organization).

The organizer is on the list of Questionable Conferences.

URL ownership is private.

The Conference Program Committee is listed on the conference website. Look on the conference website to see if the Conference Program Committee (or organizing committee) is listed.

The conference website does not provide any information on the Program or Organizing Committee membership.

The conference website provides information about the conference organizing committee, but no information about their positions and affiliation.

The conference organizing committee is made up of people from universities, companies and organizations that are not familiar or well-known in the field.

The conference organizing committee's members are experts in the field.

Search a Subject Index for publications by people on the conference organizing committee (see the WIU Libraries Databases & Indexes list).

Search WorldCat or a subject index for the organizing committee's publications.

Publications by the conference organizing committee members cannot be found in a subject index or WorldCat.

Publications from the organization convening the conference cannot be found in WorldCat.

No publications by the committee members can be found, or their publications are not related to the topic of the conference.

The conference organizer’s website is well written and designed and provides information about the organizer.

Evaluate the website, its language and its design.

Check for information about the organizer, its mission and their other activities or publications.

The website is poorly written (grammar and language).

Images are distorted, sourced from other Internet sites or used on other conference websites.

The conference website does not link to the website for the conference organizer or sponsoring organization.

Information about the conference organizer can be easily found (URL ownership given; street address is listed).

Search for URL Ownership.

Check the street address in Google Maps.

Search the company or organization in NexisUni.

URL ownership is private (owner is paying for privacy).

The street address maps to a house, apartment complex, mailbox store or a strip mall.

Information about the company or organization cannot be found in NexisUni.

The convening organization's financial information is available.

Check for financial information in on the organization’s website.

Search the convening organization in NexisUni.

The convening organization's website does not give financial information.

The organization's financial information cannot be found in NexisUni.

The conference proceedings are owned by a number of libraries (or are available free online).

Search WorldCat for the proceedings of the organization's meetings.

Check the organization's website for information and proceedings of previous meetings.

The conference proceedings are not owned by any libraries.

The conference proceedings are not available online.

Links to conference proceedings on the organizer's website do not work.

Conference proceedings are indexed by a leading index in the field Check to see if the conference papers from previous conferences are indexed in a subject index.

The conference papers from previous conferences cannot be found in subject indexes.

The journal or conference website uses icons of database vendors (EBSCO or ProQuest), but does not identify a specific index.

The conference website claims it's publications are indexed in directories (Ulrich’s, Cabells).

The conference website includes images from well-known publishers (Elsevier & Springer).

The conference organizing committee members are experts in the field.

Search a subject index for publications by people on the conference organizing committee.

Search WorldCat or a subject index for the organizing committee's publications.

Publications by the conference organizing committee members cannot be found in a subject index or WorldCat.

Publications from the organization convening the conference cannot be found in WorldCat.

No publications by the committee members can be found, or their publications are not related to the topic of the conference.

The conference organizer is a 501(c)(3) or a state tax exempt organization.

Check IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check to see if the conference organizer or publisher is listed.

If not in the IRS database, check the state where the organizer is located (linked from the State Charitable Organizations website).

The publisher or conference organizer claims it is tax exempt but cannot be found in IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check.

No address for the organizer can be found, making it difficult to check their state tax-exempt status.

Information about the conference organizer’s previous meetings is available online. Check the conference organizer's website.

No information about the organizer's previous conferences can be found.

Information about the organization's previous conferences is not available online for free.

Searching for URL Ownership

Information on URL ownership can be found using a site like GoDaddy's "Who Is" service or WhoIs.net. Do an Internet search for the words "Who Owns URL." A list of sites that supply ownership information can be found. Search the root URL (e.g. www.rooturl.com, without the http:// and ending characters). You may be asked to confirm that you are not a robot by checking a box or some other scheme. The URL ownership that is given should include the name of an organization or the person responsible for the site, and their address. Sites that say that the domain ownership is private, or that are registered by a domain privacy service should be considered suspect.

Other Resources for Investigating Conference Organizers