You can find Prof. Brebbia's answers and all other reactions from the scientific community on our WWW-server.
In short: WIT organises a conference (VIDEA'95, 12-14 June) which they claim to be reviewed, but we believe it isn't. After VIDEA'93 we already had some doubts, and so we tested what would happen with four complete nonsense submissions. They were all "provisionally accepted". As members of the Scientific Advisory Committee we were not involved in a reviewing process. We feel that our names were only misused to give the conference a serious appearance.
First we want to point out that this should not be a personal attack against anybody. Our aim was only to discourage the organisation of expensive non-reviewed conferences, where participants not only spend a lot of money but also waste their creative work for non-reviewed publications.
>Dr Purgathofer and Dr Groeller and their colleagues in
> Vienna submitted abstracts to the conference (which
> subsequently were found to be a spoof).
>These abstracts were provisionally accepted in good
> faith as they came from one of the advisory board
> Note: It is relevant to state at this point what the
> review process is for the conference.
> Abstracts are reviewed for relevance to the conference
> and its technical objectives. Certain weight is also
> given to the author, organisation and reputation in
> the field. It is obviously not possible at this stage
> to assess on the brief information provided, the full
> technical merit of the proposed paper. A provisional
> acceptance is given at this stage.
>In the case of Prof. Purgathofer and Dr Groeller, one
>logically assumed that those abstracts sent by them and
>their colleagues had already been assessed by them as they
>were members of the Conference Scientific Committee of
We don't want to comment the seriousness of accepting submissions purely based on the institution they come from. It is, however, worth noticing that one of the submissions was sent from the fictive "Styrian Advanced Naval Research" institution with an unknown author name, from which it is impossible to recognise a connection to our institute. This abstract was also "reviewed" and provisionally accepted.
>In addition they submitted papers of good quality to
>VIDEA/93 which were published in the conference book.
Maybe one of the initial reasons to publicize our observations was that we had lost three good quality papers into a non- reviewed book.
>The authors, being experienced people,
>would have been aware that the conference would
>provisionally accept abstracts from advisory board members
>and their colleagues. They also knew that any spoof
>abstracts would be unlikely to be discovered until the
>provisional programme was prepared or receipt of the full
If even spoof abstracts are not detected during reviewing, what is the whole process good for? And our experience tells us that all submissions are handled equally at serious conferences, no matter where they come from.
>We totally refute the allegation regarding the quality
>of the conferences associated with Wessex Institute of
>Technology and by implication the researchers and other
>institutions associated with the conferences. (...) we
>have received many messages of support from colleagues
>throughout the world which we very much appreciate.
We have also received many messages, and from some of them we can draw the conclusion that many other WIT conferences seem to be organised in a much more scientific manner than VIDEA, but there are also critical comments on other WIT conferences. We hope that in each single case the situation is clear to the involved people. Any damage, however, has to be blamed on the organisers of VIDEA.
Another aspect is the "final paper reminder" we received, telling us that the paper cannot be accepted for the proceedings if not sent by 27 March, including a message "We will also require (...) payment to accompany your paper".
>(...) The International Scientific Community is well
>aware of this and our conference proceedings have always
>reached a substantial number of sales, including the
>proceedings of VIDEA/93.
This is the point were we have to make clear that the first version of our story contains a slight incorrectness. The co- publishers of the VIDEA'93 proceedings were "Computational Mechanics Publications" and "Elsevier". From this we (wrongly) concluded that Elsevier would also be involved in publishing the '95 proceedings, which Elsevier commented: "The copublication agreement we had with CMP lasted from 1991 to 1993, and we no longer have any involvement with their book publications. I should emphasise that this discontinuation was for commercial reasons alone."
>As far as I can remember we have never received a
>complaint about the quality of our conference proceedings
>but rather numerous messages of congratulation and
>complimentary reviews in the scientific literature,
>including a message from Dr Groeller, saying
>that he found VIDEA/93 interesting and that he wanted
>his name to be included in the Scientific Advisory
First Eduard Groeller was invited by Prof. Brebbia for an invited talk and to become a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee. Due to our experiences with VIDEA'93 he reacted "Due to tight travel budget limitations I can only give an invited talk if travel expenses and conference fees are paid by the organising committee" and was thereafter cancelled from the publized committee without further notice. This was the moment when we decided to test VIDEA for its seriousness. So he wrote a flattery email to Prof. Brebbia, trying to find out why he was removed. The answer was "...your name has been erased because you were unable to attend the meeting. I will now see that it appears in the next Call for Papers".
>We do not understand the motives of these people and we
>find their action offensive, as it abuses the trust we all
>place in our colleagues in the International Scientific
>community. (...) If this type of behavior was repeated
>by others the foundation of our scientific knowledge
>base would be undermined.
The key question is, who abuses the trust of the International Scientific community?
A few days later Prof. Brebbia wrote:
>I understand now why Prof. Purgathofer et al. have
>decided to behave so maliciously (...)
> (...) a meeting to be held in Dublin
>from the June 12-14 1995 which has been co-organized
>by Prof. Purgathofer of Vienna Technical University.
> (...) his malicious allegations which we
>first discovered are prompted by his involvement in
>the Dublin meeting on the same dates.
>The attitude of Prof. Purgathofer et al. is highly
>unethical due to his intents to sabotage VIDEA/95 for
>clear personnel gains.
Believe it, or not: we have completely overseen this date collision until Prof. Brebbia wrote the above message, because we never planned to attend VIDEA'95 and therefore never looked at the date close enough. Luckily, Werner Purgathofer is only Program Co-Chair for the Dublin event (Eurographics Rendering Workshop) and has nothing to do with its organisation. Especially, any loss/profit has to be carried by others. The Rendering Workshop accepts a limited number of participants on a first come/first serve basis and had never had problems to reach this limit in past years. And the participants lists of VIDEA'93 and the Rendering Workshop'94 are disjoint but three persons, two of which are from our institute. So VIDEA was not even a competing event.
And Prof. Brebbia is right: if we would have tried to sabotage VIDEA'95 for this reason, this would have been highly unethical. But how could we be that silly?
>All members of the Scientific Advisory Committee were sent
>a letter asking them for support and suggestions.
>Although we did not specifically mention the reviewing of
>abstracts in the letter, they are expected to help during
>the review process if necessary.
As a member of this committee for the last VIDEA'93 Werner Purgathofer never received anything to review. And here are excerpts from reactions of two other (prominent) Scientific Advisory Committee members. 1) "For VIDEA '95, I don't know why we are in the committee and of course, we did not receive any paper to review." 2) "They have once more put my name on their 'international committee' for this year's event, but I have heard nothing about reviewing papers."
Summarizing, there might be areas in which non-refereed conferences are the normal case. This is certainly less true for several Computer Science areas. But the fact is that a conference which is announced to be reviewed ("all abstracts and final manuscripts submitted ... will be refereed ...") must really do so. WIT is selling a product where the declaration of its contents is wrong. And we believe that it is not only our right but our obligation to warn the scientific community of such circumstances.
Remains to discuss one remark we received: "[in former days a] standard said, that no member of a program committee (advisory board as well?) should ever submit a paper, or if he did, he should immediately resign from the committee." This would make it quite unattractive to become a member of such a committee. In our opinion the integrity of all involved people should assure that such papers are handled completely equally as all others. Or are we wrong?
And finally an open letter to Prof. Brebbia:
we believe we should not let this discussion escalate too much. We have learned a lot about you and your conferences during the last weeks. It is clear to us that a manager who has to take care of many things cannot have under control every detail. Although from the reactions we conclude that some of your conferences seem to fulfill the usual standards, you cannot declare that VIDEA does.
We want to propose a way out of this dilemma which minimizes harm to people, institutions, and events not involved at all in the discussed topic. If you continue to declare that all your conferences are of equal quality, you will ruin the others also. You know as well as we do that our statements about VIDEA are true and it would be much better for you to confess this now than to get it proven by us during some legal process. At the same time you should do everything to ensure that none of your other conferences is organised in the way VIDEA was.
To be fair to you, we have now put on our www-server http://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/~wp/videa.html not only our story, but also all responses we received during the last 2 weeks, including all of your messages we got a copy of. All this stuff is only anonymised, without any additional censorship. From this, it must become clear to you that every additional step you take in the wrong direction will continue to destroy your image.
Werner Purgathofer, Eduard Groeller, Martin Feda