I was just sent an invite to participate in a conference: “Based on your participation in conferences, we would like to consult your opinion and your possible contribution regarding the idea of collecting, in a multiple-author book or symposium proceedings, reflections and knowledge regarding conferences organization and quality standards/means. It will only take you about 30 seconds to give us your opinion and your potential support as a reviewer and/or paper contributor.” I often get conference spam of the variety that invites you to the conference, and you know you’ll get the paper accepted, you can pretend it is peer reviewed, and for a small sum to help with printing, it will be published. Yawn. But this one did a better job of targetting me and my background. I’ve reviewed for AERA and other conferences for years, and I love doing it. I have a very low acceptance rate regarding papers I think should be presented, and I think that my objections to conference papers are well supported. Anyway, a little digging turned up a lot, the best of which is Anthony Lieken’s page: anthony.liekens.net » Misc » Fake Conferences (see also http://3dpancakes.typepad.com/ernie/2005/04/sci_followup.html).
First of all, if there’s a conference I want to present at, I already know about it, or someone in my circle tells me about it, or I see a reference to it in the literature. Pretty easy to find conferences. As a rule, anyone who invites you, but doesn’t know you or a friend or whatever, is probably trying to pull off a scam. The real problem is how this relates to my teaching. We tell students to use academic sources; peer reviewed journals; conference proceedings and other ‘authoritative sources’. Now, I’ve not done my homework to be 100% sure that this is as much of a scam as Anthony thinks, but I have no reason to doubt his findings. I have to remember to point out to students that it is not enough to ‘be’ a professor and to have a conference. The real problem is that some of the best work is often done by people at the fringes. It is probably more important to know the work and reputation of an individual and an organization through your social network, than it is to rely on the all to ephemeral and easily manufactured signs of status. It all comes back down to the strength of your social network.
[too bad no one reads this blog, as I’m having fun with it these days.]