WCPT has urged physical therapists to be vigilant against unsolicited emails featuring publication promises and speaking invitations, usually with excessive fees attached.
Publishing research and presenting at conferences are essential parts of high-quality scholarly exchange and education, but an increasing number of commercial journals and events are targeting health professionals. Awareness of ‘predatory’ journals and events is rising but physical therapists are reminded to scrutinise and reject approaches from unofficial journals and commercial conferences promising high-profile opportunities.
“It is an unfortunate reality that legitimate publishers and event organisers – such as WCPT and our Member Organisations – are finding themselves being copied and mimicked by rogue operators,” says WCPT Chief Executive Officer Jonathon Kruger.
Predatory journals often use spam emails to ask for contributions from a range of researchers and academics including physical therapists. They promise quick and prestigious publication, but do not offer the traditional services provided by reputable publishers, such as peer-review, editing, archiving and marketing. International events associated with predatory publishers are often held at the same times or close to legitimate events in attractive locations across North America, Western Europe, Japan and China. Conferences have been promoted with detailed programmes, but have been proven to use speaker biographies and photographs without permission, confirmation or prior contact.
South African dietician Elizabeth Fourie believes she was tricked into attending the two-day ‘11th Obesity and Endocrinology Congress’ in Australia, alleging that advertised speakers were absent, that research was not properly scrutinized, and that many papers had limited relevance to the theme. The scale of predatory journals, events and emails has recently increased, with some academics reporting that they are being spammed on a daily basis. Predatory conferences are now sadly considered ‘a cottage industry in scientific communication’ which exploits researchers and the need to publish and present at official, reputable events.
Junior researchers, academics and professionals who do not speak English as their first language are considered especially vulnerable, and are reminded that low-quality publications and events pose a threat to credibility, long-term professional standing and overall quality of care.