‘Slot Machines’ Scientific Events Worries Brazilian Scientists

from(Translation of “Eventos científicos caça-níqueis preocupam cientistas brasileiros”, March 3)

Registration is open, with fees up to $ 450 EUR ($ 505 USD) to 116 simultaneous scientific meetings in February 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. The problem is that events like these are known as “scam conferences” abroad. Organized without academic rigor, they are identified as fraudulent by research institutions from other countries.

The organizer of these 116 events is the WASET (World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology). Despite its name, is a publisher. Although disclose to be located in Riverside, US, its contact phone is from the United Arab Emirates. Besides invalid, the records of their journals are from Turkey, according to the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) International Center.

While warnings for researchers are found abroad not to attend their conferences or publish in their journals, in Brazil WASET appears in the selection based on quality criteria of national and international journals, made by CAPES (Higher Education Personnel Training Coordination), which is part of the Brazilian Ministry of Education.

Available on the online platform Qualis Periódicos, this CAPES selection guides researchers, professors and graduate students to choose journals to publish their studies. The information is important for academic careers, in which the number of published articles and participation in conferences are taken into account, which often are organized by publishers.

Websites such as the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, the European Society of Neural Networks and blogs of scientists collect negative statements against WASET. The reports explain that the serial conferences become one, combining different areas of expertise and serving only for the publisher to profit from registration fees.

The ecologist Alexandre Marco da Silva, professor at UNESP (Universidade Estadual Paulista), campus of Sorocaba, learned that his name is on the scientific committee of the 14th International Conference of Geophysics and Environmental Engineering, one of 116 events. “I do not know what this conference is about”, he said surprised on the phone, adding that he will require the removal of his name from the committee.

Pointed in all 116 websites of the WASET conferences “scheduled” for 2016, the Windsor Guanabara Hotel also stated, through its events coordination, that the hotel ignores this schedule, as well as another 110 meetings for 2017 and another 110 for 2018.


The inclusion of WASET in Qualis was considered a “serious flaw” by scientists polled by Folha de S. Paulo, who preferred not to be identified in order not to antagonize CAPES.

Exception to this anonymity was the physicist Roland Köberle, a retired professor of University of Sao Paulo and member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. “It is very strange this fact”, said the researcher referring to the selection of the publisher by CAPES. He said Qualis has an obligation to warn users about fraudulent journals.

WASET is also on the list of predatory publishers of the “Scholarly Open Access” blog by Jeffrey Beall, professor at University of Colorado, Denver. The list relates publishers who exploit, without scientific rigor, journals that charge fees for researchers to publish their articles in OA on the Internet.

Both in free and paid access, reputable journals take over a year to review and accept articles, or reject them. Predatory publishers reduce this time frame to few months or weeks, and rarely reject papers. “The more items they accept and publish, the more money they make”, said Beall.

In 2013, one year after the WASET had been detected by the solitary work of Beall, CAPES concluded its three-year evaluation of graduate studies in Brazil, by 48 evaluation area committees, each with an average of 20 consultants. Even without following the academic standard to indicate receipt and acceptance dates of articles, the publisher was not rejected for 20 of these committees.

Ten of the grades obtained by WASET in Qualis require registration in at least two scientific databases. Despite this rule, the publications of this publisher are shown only in the unknown International Science Index, whose initials are the same of the prestigious ISI (Institute of Information Science), Web of Science, which is the world’s largest base of this kind.

Another irregularity of WASET in Qualis is that it is erroneously listed as journal title. To complicate matters, the publisher has ten journals, but the CAPES record makes a mess with four ISSN codes. Two of these records are in Turkey but are invalid, and the other two, Singapore, were canceled, according to the ISSN International Center in Paris, France.


The WASET did not respond to questions sent by the journalist. In a statement, CAPES was evasive about irregularities in the inclusion of WASET and its ISSN records in Qualis and the stay of this publisher in this selection. Despite this omission, the federal agency claimed that “in cases where there are evidences and references of incorrect or inappropriate editorial practices towards the scientific community, the journals are removed from Qualis”.

See the note in full:

The classification in the CAPES of periodicals, books and other forms of intellectual production is not made a priori (from the earlier) taking into consideration all publishers that exist or those who at every moment, worldwide, are launching new titles.

In the beginning of the year each graduate program (currently in the order of more than 5,700 courses) that are properly evaluated and recommended, thus constituting the National System of Graduate Studies (SNPG), must inform to CAPES the intellectual production carried out in the previous year by their professors, researchers and students.

This information declared by the graduate courses shows that currently (2013 data), the intellectual production of Brazilian graduate is published in journals in the order of more than 30 (thirty) thousand titles, edited in dozens of countries.

When classifying (Qualis) these journals for evaluation purposes (ranking) of the SNPG, which is made by the scientific and academic community through commissions of 48 areas of knowledge, various aspects of the journals are considered. In case that there is evidence and references of incorrect or inadequate editorial practices towards the community, the journals are removed from the Qualis database and the articles published in them are not considered in the evaluation. This occurred in the last triennial review, when more than sixty (60) journals were removed from the Qualis, even having been rated (accounted) in previous triennial evaluations.

It is important to emphasize that, with the exception of the teaching area (a new area in CAPES and still without the tradition of the other areas), all the mentioned journals were poorly classified in the Qualis and in their entirety set represent only 0.1% of total titles listed in the Qualis. Thus, they do not contribute to the qualification of strictly graduate courses in Brazil, even in the teaching area.

The CAPES requires from Mr. Maurício Tuffani to make the inclusion of the answer in full of this agency in the published material. Otherwise, CAPES will publish its point of view in the CAPES website.