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Suppose I receive a personal, written invite to a conference. I would like to attend, and the procedure still requires me to submit an abstract and pay for the conference, would that count as an invited talk?

On one hand, it's not different procedurally from someone submitting an abstract that gets accepted. But on the other hand, I have technically been given what seems to be an invite.

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    That's not an invite, that's a spam conference. – Captain Emacs Dec 10 '19 at 11:44
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    @CaptainEmacs: Not necessarily. For instance, this is the way that special sessions work at conferences of the (very reputable) American Mathematical Society. The session organizers send invitations to their chosen speakers, and each speaker selects their own topic and submits a title and abstract, within the scope of the session. The organizers check that it is acceptable (it usually is). There is typically no funding for such sessions, so speakers pay their own travel expenses and a modest registration fee for the conference itself. But this is definitely an invited talk. – Nate Eldredge Dec 10 '19 at 13:05
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    @CaptainEmacs: Well, I don't think anyone would describe AMS special sessions as "very selective" or particularly "high profile". They're just a common and convenient way to have a bunch of talks by reasonably qualified researchers in a particular area. I fully agree that spam conferences are a problem, but the abstract process and payment structure aren't an effective litmus test. One really has to look at the academic quality and reputation of the conference and the organizers. – Nate Eldredge Dec 10 '19 at 14:29
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    Yes, it's basically what Nate said. it's a legit conference. – det Dec 10 '19 at 14:42
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    @det You should add that to your question. If I knew you are aware that this is a legit, good quality conference, I would, of course, not have started the thread. Clearly some other readers agreed with my original sentiment. – Captain Emacs Dec 10 '19 at 14:46
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Yes. It does count. For example, many meetings have special topic sessions (e.g., SETAC). When people organized these sessions, they are often required to have a number of committed speakers.

That being said, here are some caveats:

  • Beware of predator conferences.
  • The value of being invited to a special session is different than being invited as a plenary speaker. Be careful to not overplay this on your CV. For the life sciences, invited talks are nice, but not as import as fields where conference proceedings are highly valued.
  • The custom related to being an invited talks vary across academic disciplines. Also, some meetings wave registration for all speakers (e.g., ODSC). Most, however, do not.
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Invited presentations, where you're only formally invited, became quite usual these days. Being invited then merely means that you get more time to present your stuff. Sometimes the conference fee is waived when you ask for it. Often the organizers rely on the registration fees to break even.

Independent of paying the fee or not, it is usual to ask invited speakers for an abstract. As an organizer, you want something for the booklet (or USB stick nowadays). The submission deadline is treated more loose since an invited speaker does not need to be rated by the program committee. Though of course there is the deadline for the printed version of the booklet (which not all invited speakers manage to meet - or violate on purpose).

Such presentations are considered as invited talks without doubt.

I'm not talking about the spam conferences, as mentioned by @captainemacs, although these of course also exist. Though personally I don't know anybody, who ever attended one.

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  • I also don't know of anybody who's attended a spam conference, but there must be plenty of people who do, or they would't exist. Typically, such people would be students who aren't yet fully familiar with how the system works, and that's also the sort of person who might ask a question such as the one at the top of this page. – David Richerby Dec 11 '19 at 7:53

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