Canadian academia is well supplied with sundry frauds and phonies, from Senator Dandy Don Meredith‘s dodgy doctorates from campus-free Christian colleges (Franks passim) on down, without our accredited diploma mills getting in on the act.
And yet our institutes of lower larnin’ will this year repeatedly rent their facilities (and reputations) to the distinctly sketchy organizers of predatory conferences, the live-in-person equivalent of those bogus pay-for-play academic journals.
These conferences appear solely designed to separate resume-padding academics from their research budgets. Instead of employing expensive and time-consuming ‘experts’ to review and reject weak submissions, they democratically allow just about anyone to present any old shite they want, so long as they pay the registration fee.
One purveyor of these synthetic symposiums, Unique Conferences Canada (UCC), claims on its website to be “the leading Canadian research conference organizer.” UCC will hold at least eight conferences in Toronto and Ottawa in 2017 and help organize others in, er, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
All the better to fleece the sheepskin set where they live, UCC has booked conference space at Ryerson University’s International Living and Learning Centre, the University of Toronto’s Chestnut Conference Centre, and St. Paul University in Ottawa.
Other events this year explore everything from nutrition to law to wimmins’s studies. Fees to give a ten-minute speech run up to $600 U.S. UCC also invites scholars to “publish your paper without attending.” For a mere $250, researchers can upload PowerPoint slides to YouTube and publish in the conference proceedings.
Curiously, for the Canadian leader in organizing academic bunfests, UCC proved tricky to track down. Its website lists office hours as 9-5 “Canadian Standard Time” but gives no address or phone number. The address UCC used to obtain a Canadian International Standard Book Number for conference proceedings is a North York apartment.
Website registry information show conference convener Prabhath Patabendi using a Sri Lankan address for UCC. Patabendi also serves as director for the doubtless-prestigious “International Center for Research and Development,” headquartered at the same address. Patabendi failed to reply to multiple requests for Unique Conferences’ Canadian address, if any.
When informed UCC didn’t seem to exist in Canada and furthermore appears to be running complete bullshit events at U of T’s facilities, a Chestnut Centre sales manager declined to comment. Ryerson’s Learning Centre and St. Paul University also ignored Frank inquiries.
Canadian professors also assist UCC in its lucrative educational endeavours. Wimal Rankaduwa, professor of economics at the University of PEI, gives keynote speeches and serves on an “International Scientific Committee”. He told Frank UCC events help researchers unable to participate in large academic conferences, but didn’t know their Canadian address, either.
Another keynote speaker and committee member, Tennyson Samraj, professor of philosophy and religion at Burman University, academic jewel of Lacombe, AB, failed to reply to multiple emails.
Eva C. Karpinski, associate professor at York University’s School of Women’s Studies, agreed to give a keynote address in Toronto. She says that she’s never heard of predatory conferences but already developed “suspicions” about the event and asked Frank for advice about what to do.
Er, stay in school?