Alexander Kurz

Predatory Publishing

Update, Jan 24, 2021: WASET removed some of the links in the article below. I leave the broken links because they are now part of documenting WASET activity. I have archived their webpages at the time, so do get in touch if you are interested. As far as my google skills allow me to judge, it seems that all explicit references to “Topology, Algebra, and Categories in Logic” have been removed from WASET webpages … so maybe documenting their activity helps, even if only a little?

Ever heard of WASET? Or predatory publishing? I didn’t … until yesterday, Dec 16, 2019.

Yesterday I learned of the 14. International Conference on Topology, Algebra, and Categories in Logic.

I was immediately interested. I have been attending the biannual conferences Topology, Algebra and Categories in Logic since their inauguration in 2003 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Logic is a small field and TACL, as we call it now, an even smaller and distinctive subfield that draws approximately a hundred participants to the biannual conference. So I am fairly confident that I know most researchers in the area, at least by name. But I had not heard before of the 14. International Conference on Topology, Algebra, and Categories in Logic.

In fact, I had not heard neither of any of the 13 previous conferences that must have preceded the 14th. I was even more surprised when I looked at the members of the program committee and there were no familiar names at all. No logicians on a PC of a logic conference? But many other subjects are represented, for example

criminal justice, wastewater treatment, education, chemistry, gynecology

and so on it goes (see the appendix below for a list with links to explore). Not a single person on the PC worked on any of the topics highlighted in the Call for Papers.

Talking about the Call for Papers, the topics of interest agree word for word (up to some minor permutations) with the one of TACL 2017. Plagiarism is a common term for this. But predatory sounds as a more appropriate description of this behaviour of WASET.

Do these researchers even know that they are on the PC of this conference? And if yes, how did WASET convince the PC members to agree? Some of them seem to be honest researchers. Why would they volunteer to serve on the PC of a conference without being an expert on any of the the topics of interest?

The program was available already at least on December 17 while notification of accpetance was only on December 31.

How is it possible that the program is determined two weeks before notification? Is there any peer review?

Why do the selected papers appear to be totally unrelated to the conference topics? Where are the selected papers selected from? Why do selected papers appear before the submission deadline?

Further questions include:

To drive home that these are serious questions that go to the heart of the integrity of science, just have a look at how many conferences WASET organises only in January 2020 in Rome. If all these 2385 conferences are predatory conferences, then science has a serious problem.

The person that deserves most of the credit for making scientists aware of the problem is Jeffrey Beall who coined as early as 2010 (see Beall’s Google Scholar page) the apt term predatory publisher. He also created Beall’s list which was later taken down for reasons that are speculated upon in the article Why Beall’s blacklist of predatory journals died.

An archived version of Beall’s List is available and also a List of Predatory Publishers, which is currently maintained by a community effort.

If you have an idea of what to do against predatory publishers, leave a comment by rasing an issue or send me an email.

(First published Dec 17, 2019.)