Spam conferences.

Today I got an e-mail from Prof. Nikos E. Mastorakis <> with the loong subject line:

Dear Professor Frers, As invited author, you are entitled publication of your paper in the ISI Proceedings, Books and Journals of the WSEAS [my e-mail address] ( reply only to )

How nice!, I thought, Somebody recognized my academic brilliance and is inviting me to a conference!. More flattery follows and then come several lists and promises of how many books I will get for free if I attend the conference, that they will publish my paper in some kind of journal which will be cited and listed in a gazillion of indices etc. By then, I was already pretty suspicious and the effect of the flattery sadly had to subside. There was just too much information about how academically excellent this conference would be, how much I personally would benefit from it, and there were some other, more interesting suggestions: The location they gave for the conference is Penang, Malaysia and guess what the picture on the conference website shows? Yup. A beach lined with palm trees…
When I then went on to search the internet for terms like wseas strange, wseas spam or wseas scam, I had to dig through many, many pages that all were somehow linked to the organization that hosts the conference itself. They are very clever in linking to papers that have the words spam or scam in them, so that you will somehow land in one of their domains when you actually are looking for sources not connected to them. It seems to me they even have pseudo blogs of their own. With a bit of effort you will find the few places that are independent and they certainly don’t have a lot of good things to say about the scheme. (The best that you will find are the CVs and publication lists of people who seem to have attended one of the many conferences hosted by the WSEAS.) The registration fee is between 500 and 550 Euros. On the page where they give information about the conference fee, you see two women in bikinis lounging beside a crystal blue swimming pool… Got the idea?
So you have a strange mix of appealing on the one hand to a huge career benefit in terms of publishing in well-indexed journals and on the other hand of hanging out at a beach etc. Who wouldn’t submit a paper? Well, I haven’t found a report of anyone who actually participated in one of these conferences, but I am quite sure it would be an interesting read. But I guess the incentives for disclosing this kind of information are not very … existent. Good subject for a field study, of course. Other than that, I would be glad if my e-mail inbox could be kept free of this kind of – in my opinion – pseudo-academic money making scheme that eats away my time and attention.

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