Werner Purgathofer, Eduard Groeller, Martin Feda,
TU Wien / Austria.


This paper illustrates that there are conferences which will destroy confidence in scientific life if the community does not forbid them. The Wessex Institute of Technology (UK) [1] organizes a whole series of regular conferences on various topics [2]. Our experiences are only with one of these, "VIDEA", but one should probably also be careful with the others. It is an offense against honorable scientists to offer false publication possibilities under a scientifically serious disguise for high fees. Our conclusion is: VIDEA accepts EVERYTHING! And we conclude from that that a publication in the VIDEA proceedings is worth NOTHING AT ALL! And to organize such a conference is simply a fraud. Conferences like VIDEA are a morally dispisable scheme to allow people to buy themselves publications without having to undergo any type of reviewing. It simply increases the flow of worthless data and makes it more difficult for scientists to extract really useful information


Serious conferences usually introduce themselves by distributing a "Call for Papers" including a submission deadline. After having received contributions a technical program committee reviews and evaluates these to come to a decision which of the submitted paper proposals shall be accepted for the conference. Some conferences ask for abstracts first to be able to decide whether a topic is appropriate for their event, and ask for full papers (to be reviewed again) only thereafter.

This holds also for a conference called "Visualization and Intelligent Design in Engineering and Architecture" (VIDEA'93). Having accepted to become a member of the program committee for VIDEA'93, one of the authors made two suspicious observations. Firstly, he received exactly zero abstracts and zero papers to review, and was never informed about any program committee meetings nor of any reviewing results. The program for the conference was finished apparently without involvement of the scientific advisory committee. We recognized this by receiving the printed advance program. Secondly, we submitted three papers to this conference, and they were all accepted without any comments, grades, or whatsoever. Meaningless to say that the visit to this conference was very disappointing both in the sense of contents and in the sense of organization.

When two of the authors were asked to become members of the program committee for VIDEA'95 (to take place in La Coruna, Spain), we planned to test if any reviews take place at all. We would send them four abstracts that are obviously plain nonsense, that no excuse for accepting them could be taken seriously. This paper reports about this activity.

The submitted abstracts

We decided to write more than one crazy abstract to make sure that an acceptance cannot be interpreted as accident and so we tried different types of weird papers proposals. The first of four abstracts we produced was simply a completely irrelevant topic, namely how to create footprints on the walls of public rooms. It includes several statements that every reviewer must recognize as joke. The complete text is given in abstract 1.

The second abstract describes a correct method which makes no sense at all, that is how to render interior rooms without light. Obviously, the resulting image will be completely black. This was written as in abstract 2.

These first two productions have at least a little bit the structure of a scientific paper abstract. What we also wanted to try was, if VIDEA would accept its own text as abstract. So we copied the complete introduction from the "Call for Papers" and gave this abstract the title of the conference. Minor changes were only made like changing the word "conference" to "paper". The result is given in abstract 3.

Last but not least we decided to produce an abstract without any content, just complete nonsense. So we took a dictionary of information processing words and selected randomly some 40 phrases from there and joined them together to a fantastically technical sounding text. The given reference is, of course, the utilized dictionary! We had much fun with abstract 4.


All abstracts were sent to the conference in November 1994 and on January 14th, 1995 we received the results. All four abstract have been "reviewed and provisionally accepted"! This means, that the VIDEA conference organizers [3] claim someone has reviewed these abstracts and has found them suitable for the conference! As members of the program committee two of us had nothing to do with reviewing.

The acceptance letter also contains information from which can be concluded that final papers will only be printed in the proceedings if the registration fee is paid together with the final paper. Additionally, the letter states "Due to the success of the conference and to be fair, we can only allow each participant to present one paper at the meeting which will be published in the proceedings" which makes sure that every published paper is paid for by a registration fee. The publishers (the proceedings of the last conference VIDEA'93 were co-published by "Computational Mechanics Publications, Southampton-Boston" and "Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd., London-New York") probably don't have the slightest idea that they are printing non-reviewed material as high-quality books.


We believe that Wessex Institute of Technology (or at least some people there) profit in a very dirty way from the international pressure on scientists to have long publication lists. They pretend to organize scientific conferences by giving them the look of such events. They use the names of the program committee members for economical purposes only. They "sell" publication possibilities to less experienced or naive members of our community and in this way ruin their work by producing a worthless publication. It is very dangerous to tolerate such developments. This would ruin the seriousness of our scientific culture.

The effects of this little test definitely must be that this conference of the Wessex Institute of Technology is abandoned and ignored in the future and that the names of its organizers [3] are watched very carefully for their future actions. We will resign from the program committee immediately and try to warn all other program committee members and authors of accepted papers.

Another effect of such scandals should be that the length of the publication lists of scientists must not become so important. Rather than that, other evaluation measures that emphasize quality instead of quantity should be internationally further encouraged. Only by reducing the pressure to produce lots of papers can the danger of such unmoral events be reduced. One positive side-effect would be a reduced intellectual pollution in some fields.

A third aspect is how scientifically serios institutions can find support in the organization of local conferences. We want to strongly recommend to contact the established scientific associations of your field to ensure serious support, e.g. the national computer societies, or specialized associations for specific fields. They usually can help with publicity, financing, and high quality publications.

Important Note

We believe that Wessex Institute of Technology is fully responsible for this affair, and that both the university cite where VIDEA shall take place and the publisher who will produce the proceedings are fooled in the same way as the participants.


[1] Wessex Institute of Technology Ashurst Lodge, Ashurst, Southampton, SO40 7AA, UK. Tel +44(703)293223, Fax +44(703)292853, email CMI@ib.rl.ac.uk

[2] WIT-conferences in 1995:

[3] Director: Professor C.A. Brebbia, Wessex Institute of Technology

Last update: March 23, 1995. If you have any comments, please send a mail to wp#cg.tuwien.ac.at.

Werner Purgathofer, Institute of Computer Graphics, Technical University of Vienna.