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01/20/2021

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sci guy

I think this is an important issue. I am friends with a number of people who have been involved in organizing big conferences. They note that there is now a trend for up to 25 % of the people who have papers accepted to withdraw from the program. This really is a new thing. I withdrew twice: once for a family medical emergency, and once because of a immigration-related issue. It is very challenging to plan conferences when people think it is okay withdraw.
Second, there is a maximum one should present. I cannot tell you the exact figure, but I can explain what will happen. In philosophy of science, there are key conferences where one wants to present: PSA; EPSA; BSPS ... SPSP. Let us imagine one gets their paper - the same paper - on all four programs. With each presentation more and more people at the conferences will say, I heard that one before at the PSA ... So by the fourth conference one will be sitting in the room by themselves presenting to no one.

anon

I'm not sure if this is a rule to be followed, but I've always tried to at least avoid submitting in a way where I know it will be impossible to do everything if accepted (so, for instance, not submitting to two conferences happening on the same weekend.)

conference organizer

Sci Guy, I'm curious whether you mean withdrawing after confirming that they will present, or simply saying no once their paper is accepted. The latter seems totally unproblematic to me (and having organized or helped organize a few conferences, is something that we typically plan for--having a set of "alternates" to accept--and also that has been happening to me in that capacity since the first conference I organized in something like 2009). (Maybe it's subdisciplinary-specific, or location-specific, e.g. you are in Europe or something and there are different norms about this stuff there?)

In any case I don't see what the problem is with submitting to as many conferences as you like. I don't think the norm should be that if your paper is accepted you have incurred some obligation to present. It's easy enough for organizers to pick the best papers and a second tier of papers to move to if people say no. That being said one should be mindful of creating extra work for conference organizers and referees, so I wouldn't submit to a conference I was almost certain I wouldn't attend, and I also would use anon's rule (except in unusual cases, like there are two prestigious conferences at the same time that your work would be a good fit for, and you know are pretty competitive so it is unlikely that you will get accepted to both, etc.).

Michel

You can absolutely submit the same thing to as many conferences as you like. Go for it.

There does come a point when one gets tired of presenting, however, even if it's different papers. For in-person conferences where travel is involved, I've found that 8+ in a year is definitely too many, and the sweet spot for me is more like 2-3. Zooming, my stamina might be higher.

Why?

I'm puzzled: why? Why not just decide in advance which ones are the best fit, and submit to those? We're talking about student conferences... These conferences have very high acceptance rates, don't they?

For the same paper I might submit to 2, *maybe* 3 conferences, if I were sure audiences did not overlap and I would be getting significantly different feedback at each.

Overseas Tenured

In response to "Why?": no, my experience in grad school was just the opposite (and it wasn't that long ago). Strangely enough, grad student conferences are often very difficult to get into. Especially those taking places at tippy-top departments (NYU, Oxford, MIT) often have minuscule acceptance rates. As a grad student, I got rejected far more often from grad student conferences than from the APA or from major specialist conferences. I also had papers that got rejected from several grad student conferences and then got published in top-10 and even top-5 journals.

So, no, my experience is that grad student conferences aren't easier to get into than regular ones, and if anything, the opposite is true.

conference organizer

I don't think it's true that most student conferences have high acceptance rates (my experience with grad conferences at two places I was a grad student and now as faculty whose students run a grad conference is that the acceptance rate has always been under 10%, sometimes well under). Indeed many large conferences in philosophy (e.g. the APA, large regional conferences) have *much* higher acceptance rates than many graduate conferences do. But I also think there is no reason to think the OP is talking exclusively (or even at all) about graduate student conferences.

gradconf

I (co-)ran one of the more competitive graduate conferences several years ago, and our acceptance rate was ~5%. Most of the papers eventually ended up being published in top-10 generalist journals or top specialist journals.

Michel

My experience has also been that grad conferences are *way* harder to get into than regular conferences. After a while I just stopped trying, because it was better to go to my subfield associations' conferences anyway.

questions

Do hiring committees even care about conferences? Isn't the only reason to go to network? Can you really network in a virtual online conference?

Why?

I stand corrected! I had no idea that grad conferences were so selective. (OP refers to “student conferences” so I think that is what they are talking about).

R

If the question from the reader was meant to be "can I do professional harm to myself by submitting to too many conferences and/or presenting the same paper at too many conferences?", I think the answer is "almost certainly not". If you are polite about it and ideally let the organizers know well in advance, no one will hold withdrawing a paper against you. Even if they're a little annoyed it seems unlikely this would have a real impact on your future prospects. The only caveat to this: I agree with a previous commenter you should aim to avoid giving the same paper to individual audience members multiple times.

I would interpret everything else in this thread (especially the comments on diminishing marginal benefits) as reasons why you might not *want* to submit to too many conferences. But this is a matter of personal taste. I know a few people who think giving talks and attending conferences is the most fun aspect of the job. They'll happily give the same paper half a dozen times (Neil Sinhababu is particularly known for this and has given some papers more than twenty times). Others get little to no benefit or enjoyment from giving talks and will present each paper just once or not at all.

I doubt there's a strong correlation between where you fall on this scale and career success, so just do what works for you.

Grad Student

The foregoing discussion of the competitiveness of grad student conferences makes me wonder: what are the acceptance rates like at high profile specialist/professional conferences and workshops? Does it mean less on a CV to have presented at a specialist workshop than at a high profile grad conference even though the workshop presentation would take place alongside big names in your subdiscipline? Or is this a perfect example of sweating the small stuff?

Anil

OP here. I framed my questions in terms of student conferences but that was only because I'm a student and currently submitting to student events only. (So, generalize to all conferences as you wish!) My understanding is also that it's OK to submit to as many conferences (whether student or professional, online or in-person) as one likes, as long as merely submitting isn't a commitment to attend--and in almost all cases it is not. Thanks also to Marcus for the practical tip about potential journal referees getting to know you: I guess there really is a "sweet spot" for the number of times you might want to present the same thing if what you really want is to get it published.

 a specialist

Grad Student
You are sweating the small stuff. If you want a job in philosophy of social science, for example, it is best that you present at their specialty conferences, as well as the general philosophy of science conferences. No one is going to say, hey, look, they presented at Harvard's grad conference. Now that is important ... more important than moving with the specialists.a

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