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« Do editors hold rejections against authors? | Main | What Do You Aim for in Referee Reports? (guest post by Finnur Dellsén) »

02/16/2021

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AnotherConfusedGradStudent

Follow-up question: Does the number of conferences (overall) have an impact on one's application? I was under the impression that all that mattered was that one presented at 'some' conferences, but that the marginal impact of individual extra conferences was verrry small.

Tom2

I think the reader's intuition, and Marcus's analysis, are basically right. After three or four presentations, if there's a big problem with the argument, or important literature that you've missed, or whatever, you're going to know about it.

Keep in mind, too, that referee reactions are hard to predict: You could present a paper at conference #5; make a bunch of changes in response to audience feedback; submit to a journal; and then get referees who would have preferred the previous version.

Another grad student

I (another grad student) have been advised not to present the same paper more than once, but the faculty member who gave me this advice suggested that minor changes would suffice in making it not 'the same paper'. So if you present the paper at one conference, and want to present it at a second, you should at least make a few changes (ideally based on the feedback you got at the first presentation) and maybe even change the title for the second presentation. Not doing this isn't anything horribly wrong, but it doesn't help you to have on your CV that you presented the same talk a bunch of times. Presumably, though, having presented several similar talks would help you (though how much it would help is unclear). (For what it's worth, also, I think that people tend not to list every conference talk on their CV, so they only leave on the ones that are particularly impressive, which is probably why you don't ever really see the same paper over and over again at different conferences on someone's CV).

ehz

The advice not to present a paper more than once seems to me wrong. It's definitely something that many academically successful philosophers do not follow - just take a look at CVs and websites and you'll find that it's not uncommon to present the same paper at 2-3 different conferences.

hoagie

For what it's worth, my sense of it is that conference presenting norms vary greatly across subfields. I did a PhD at a pluralist institution; the analytic people there presented the same paper at as many as four conferences, and while continental people typically only presented papers once. In my own small historical subfield, there are few events, and repeat presentations (say more than twice) can and do lead to annoyance from those who have to sit through the same paper repeatedly.

So all of this is to say that there seems to be a lot of variation within the discipline, and this might explain the conflicting advice given to grad students.

Don't look like a scammer

Another grad student
Please do not change the title if you are presenting the SAME paper at another conference. First, it is a pain in the ass for someone who goes to your paper - the second time - thinking its a different paper, and has to sit through the same talk twice (or rudely walk out of the room). Second, if one gets the impression some is doing that, then one might think they are deceitful, and hold it against them when they apply for a job (thinking they are a scammer). Change the title ONLY when the paper has really changed, or you realize the title does not reflect the content of the paper.

Assistant Professor

As I moved from grad student to postdoc to faculty I have changed my views a few times on conferencing and feedback on my work. I think as a grad student before getting many or any publications, conferences demonstrate that you can participate in the profession (have work accepted, present it, play the game). Over time I have become much more judicious about when and where I present my work because I find some settings are better for getting useful feedback (rather than just showing that I can be accepted by the right people/places, which I valued more as a student than I do now that I have other markers of my "success" in the profession).

I have presented a handful of papers at two different conferences and found it useful to get different kinds of feedback and refine the work between and since each presentation. But I now care more about spaces where people are likely to know something about my topic, and venues that allow for a decent amount of time for Q&A to have a meaningful discussion about the work. I really like small specialist conferences where everyone has shared interests and overlapping knowledge to have conversations across a few days that are relevant to my work. I agree with others that if you present the same paper (including a revised version), call it the same thing and demonstrate that you have been refining it across venues. Notice too that established, fancy people often present the same talk again and again, largely because they are invited to do so, or it is something they are testing out as part of a book project, etc. Sometimes people list their job talks under invited talks on their CV and they give it repeatedly too (if they are so lucky). There is nothing inherently wrong with repeating your talk within the profession and there are many models of when it is a norm.

Malcolm

One thing I don't see explicitly raised in the discussion is what your audiences are at the conferences, though "Assistant Professor" above hints at it with "different kinds of feedback."

This may not be relevant for everyone, but if your paper could benefit from different groups of people giving feedback, it's worth presenting at different conferences. If it's a history paper that focuses on epistemology, present at a broadly historical conference, at a narrow historical conference (on your person/period), and at an epistemology conference. Thinking about the kinds of people who will be refereeing the eventual paper (or book) could help you identify contexts where those kinds of audience members will be present.

Assistant Professor

@Malcom - yes I was definitely thinking about audience (which I think is important when choosing to present at any conference: will this audience be useful to you?) and the possibility to try out work with distinct audiences who can help support it based on their unique areas of expertise.

For grad students, it might look like trying out work at a grad student conference that feels safer/more inclusive/more supportive and then refining the paper and sending it to a bigger conference with participants of different ranks, for example. I can see value in presenting in both settings to get different things from those experiences.

Another Asst Prof

Just to chime in on a part of the OP that hasn't really been addressed:

"Should I hold off on submitting this thing if I've already picked 4 conferences, including the APA, until one or more of those 4 rejects me?"

When I was early to the conference game, late undergrad and early grad school, I definitely would submit a paper to a handful of conferences at once. Chances were, they'd get rejected by a good number and only land at a couple. If the OP is confident that the paper will be rejected at a few of these conferences, I see no reason to wait for rejection to submit to other conferences, in order to make sure that the paper does make it in somewhere. Otherwise, the danger is letting CFP deadlines pass, only to be rejected and end up with 1 or 0 conferences to present.

And, although I prefer not to do this, life happens, and sometimes you get into a conference that you can no longer attend. So long as you let conference organizers know quickly, I don't see anything wrong with so doing. Or, if the paper gets into the better conferences, one could preemptively write other conference organizers to withdraw a submission. Often there are papers that didn't quite make it that organizers would be happy to turn to. But, I'm open to pushback on any of these fronts.

I imagine pushback given the referee labor, which is why I'm really suggesting this course of action if one is pretty confident that some of the submissions are a reach and it's likely to be rejected. If one submits to a conference as a pure backup they are almost certain to not attend, I would find this to be much more problematic.

mover

Another reason to go to different types of conferences is to figure out who your audience is. I move between disciplines, and sometimes some of the work I do is just incomprehensible or uninteresting to people in one discipline (but not in another). At one point you may settled down into a crowd.

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