“Predatory conference” organizers now stalk Japan’s groves of academe, preying on unsuspecting researchers. These conferences are inferior events that contribute little to the field of academic knowledge but generate plenty of revenue for organizers’ bank accounts. Academics, some simply naive but others willingly participating, risk hurting their wallets and reputations by presenting at such conferences and helping to organize them.

Attendees paying with university research budgets often don’t mind the cost. One university instructor, who didn’t want to be named, said he attended an expensive for-profit conference because his university had paid, but that he would have balked at paying the high fee out of his own pocket. In the case of public universities, these research budgets are covered by taxpayer money.

Predatory conferences are for-profit, low-quality academic meetings that exploit researchers’ need to share and publish their research. According to Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, they’re similar to the established problem of predatory publishing. Predatory publishers will, for a fee, publish any article by posting it to an online journal. Beall maintains a blacklist of publishers to avoid on his Scholarly Open Access blog.