In light of increasing concerns regarding attendance to predatory conferences, KAIST will be improving its online business trip application system to prevent participation in such events. The change is applicable to any members of KAIST requesting domestic or international business trips from October 7.
On October 4, the KAIST Academic Affairs Team notified members of KAIST about changes to the online business trip application system. Previously, anyone applying for a business trip funded by a department could simply fill out a request form on the KAIST Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) webpage even with insufficient details of the trip. However, with the new changes, attendees will now have to include detailed information regarding the domestic/international business trips, including whether the trip entails a participation in an academic seminar. Before submitting a request, a pop-up window directs users to a list of predatory conferences to allow them to check if they are attending a legitimate conference.
Recurring participation in conferences of questionable quality has increasingly become a concern in Korean academia. These “fake” events are designed so that researchers can pay to have their unreviewed papers published. This allows them to wrongfully increase the number of their academic papers published in journals, which is a strict violation of basic research ethics. Researchers can easily exaggerate their academic performances and hence get more monetary support from KAIST and the government.
NEWSTAPA, a Korean news outlet, reported that KAIST researchers unlawfully administered 120 million KRW worth of funds since 2014 by attending predatory conferences. Furthermore, the abuse of funds was one of the main contributing factors why a KAIST professor had his nomination for the minister of the Ministry of Science and ICT revoked this spring (see Volume 169 for more information.)
However, these changes still do not address the issue to its full extent. Simply checking the list of predatory conferences listed by KAIST fulfils the requirement to apply for academic business trips. Therefore, even with the new changes, members can still apply to attend illegitimate seminars. Without any enforced restrictions, the changes may be futile in preventing breaches of research ethics.