Wed, Aug 03, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Taiwan’s great academic rip-off

Predatory conferences, endemic to the nation’s peer review system, prey on the need for academics and students to present and publish their work, while reaping huge profits for the organizers

By James McCrostie  /  Contributing reporter

iBAC’s Web site lists only a handful of its conferences. An Internet search found 28 conferences at 10 events scheduled by iBAC and its subsidiaries and partners for last year. More than half were located in Japan with the others held around Asia.

A HEF spokesperson said by e-mail that the company organized 20 conferences across Asia last year. Yet an Internet search found 59 conferences scheduled, with at least 30 held in Japan and the rest divided among eight other Asian countries.

iBAC and HEF also maintain opaque relationships to other conference organizers. iBAC’s subsidiary, International Academy Institute, organizes conferences in Japan and other Asian countries.

iBAC also cohosts events with the Academy of Taiwan Information Systems Research and the Knowledge Association of Taiwan. Fang served as president for both groups in the past.

A fourth group, called the Social Science Society, sponsors iBAC conferences and its three-member advisory board (two from Japan and one from Thailand) also sit on iBAC’s advisory board. iBAC declined to respond to questions about their relationship with these organizations.

HEF also has partners that don’t appear on their Web site. Attendees paying their conference fees by bank transfer sometimes send the money to the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association Inc’s Mega International Commercial Bank account in Hong Kong.

HEF failed to answer questions about their relationship, but Web sites show Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association shares the same Fuxing South Road (復興南路) address as HEF and also organizes conferences.

iBAC and HEF also obscure who is in charge. Until the end of September last year, iBAC’s Web site listed the names and photographs of a six member “Advisory Board,” four from Japan and one each from Thailand and the US.

After I contacted two Japanese members of the board, the page was suddenly removed and replaced with the names of the board of directors. However the directors’ names appear only in Chinese and lack titles and photographs.


HEF’s Web site doesn’t list the names of any individuals involved with the company. Even acceptance letters sent to presenters contain only an indecipherable signature and use a .gmail account. The unnamed HEF spokesperson declined to provide the name of the company owner.

iBAC and HEF also funnel conference papers to predatory journals. iBAC recommends papers to journals published by Science Publications, an iBAC conference sponsor. The company charges authors a publication fee ranging between US$350 and US$525.

Science Publications is blacklisted on Beall’s list of questionable publishers that academics should avoid.

HEF directs papers to six publishers on Beall’s blacklist. When asked about HEF’s relationship with them a spokesperson replied by e-mail that “it might be our oversight that some of our cooperated parties are not qualified. We are now doing annual review of these journals/publishers, based on their publications this year. We shall decide if the cooperation should be continued.”

Beall warns that publishing in journals on his blacklist could be “potentially damaging to the attendees, whose reputations could be hurt by publishing their work in low quality, predatory journals.”

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