, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 687–698 | Cite as

An approach to conference selection and evaluation: advice to avoid “predatory” conferences

  • Raynell LangEmail author
  • Marcy Mintz
  • Hartmut B. Krentz
  • M. John Gill


With an ever increasing number of academic conferences being offered and a growing concern regarding the appearance of “predatory conferencing”, the optimal use of one’s “conference time” has become complicated. It is particularly important for medical students and residents, due to both limited time and resources, to choose conferences to achieve the most benefit for their academic careers, however little information is available to provide guidance. We gathered current practices and perceptions from a wide number of faculty and residents to provide insights into their decision making process for conference evaluation and selection. We surveyed using an online program (SurveyMonkey®) 150 faculty members and medical residents at University of Calgary requesting them to rank factors, which may be useful in their conference selection. We also evaluated both faculty and resident’s knowledge of and exposure to presumed “predatory” science. Responses were anonymized and collated. The most important factors in selecting a conference(s) for residents is being focused on their area of interest, having an opportunity to present work, having well known respected plenary speakers, networking potential and being recommended by colleagues. Residents placed more importance on cost, location and time of year of the conference than faculty. Faculty placed more emphasis on networking potential, sponsoring organization, obtaining continuing professional development credits and the likelihood that cutting edge research will be presented. Most faculty (71%) had received correspondence from presumed “predatory” publishers or conferences, however only 56% of residents had ever either heard of or had education about “predatory science”. Experienced faculty need to provide advice and mentorship to trainees on conference value. In the absence of any formal tool for assessing conference quality their proactive guidance remains critical for medical students and residents. There is a significant lack of awareness and education for both trainees and some faculty around “predatory” publications and conferencing making them particularly vulnerable to misusing time and resources. Improved knowledge, education and new metrics are required to safeguard the academic community in this new era of “predatory academia”.


Medical education Continuing professional development Predatory conferences Conference selection 



Continuing professional development


Internal medicine



The authors would like to thank all of the survey respondents as without your input this work would not have been possible.

Authors contributions

RL, MM and MJG were involved in creation and dissemination of the survey. RL, MM, HK and MJG were primary authors and involved in drafting and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

We have no relevant conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The survey was voluntary and respects the confidentiality and anonymity of all research respondents. Based on ARECCI screening tool no further ethical review required.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raynell Lang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marcy Mintz
    • 1
  • Hartmut B. Krentz
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. John Gill
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Southern Alberta ClinicCalgaryCanada

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