I have been nominated for a community contribution award. I was thrilled to be considered for this award. The conference also has workshops hardcoded to my research.

However, while discussing with my supervisor, he seemed hesitant that my travel could be financially supported, and he said if it a publication, it would be better.

He asked to send him email, it seems disappointing his reaction seemed disappointing. He said you cannot travel to all-conference, although I did not travel to any conferences since my PhD start?

My question: Should program financially support my travel to present at workshop plus being award nominee?

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    While “interesting” that does not mean they will accept it as relvant for your program and, it is their decision to make.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 11:22
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    Are you sure the nomination and workshop attendance are as serious as they sound? There's always a possibility that you were invited for someone to make money for a for-profit conference that just need suckers to attend for a fee. If you can make the case that the conference and award are legitimate and important you may have better standing in your discussion with your program. Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 13:04
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    How much are we talking about here? $500 for a quick plane ride and two nights at a hotel or $2000 for a cross country trip? Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 16:21
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    I don't know what a "community contribution award" is. Can you briefly explain what group awards this distinction and what it's based on? Is this a well-known thing in your academic field? Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 22:57
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    @Erik: I did Google it, and came up with many very different hits. Some of them would be potentially valuable for academic purposes and others would be worthless. I have no way of knowing which kind yours is, which is why I asked. Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


Sadly, what the university should do, what it can do, and what it is willing to do might all be different.

In a perfect world, yes, they should fund you. However, there may be limited funds or even regulations that bind their decision. Also, your relationship with the supervisor might be an issue if they don't think that this is worthwhile for you or them. Or even, if it would be your supervisor providing the funding under a grant, the grant itself might have rules. Finally, note that not every university will provide funds for students in any case. It might be harder to justify an unusual expense than a common one.

It wasn't exactly clear if you sent the email you were already asked to send and were then refused or if you haven't done that yet. Don't push the issue to the point that your advisor is angry and unyielding, but a formal request is probably appropriate. But try to make your case on the merits of the award, both for yourself and the university. And, there may be things of direct interest to your current studies at the conference also.

And if you have to self-fund for this, it may still be worth it for you in the long term if you use the time well at the conference to extend your circle of contacts for the future.

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    how can I know if this award-worthy or worthless? comments above highlight that point, do you any experience?
    – user116038
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 23:30
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    I don't have much help. If it is a regular award, can you learn something about past recipients? Can you contact them? It is hard to know from the term "community contribution" what it really is, actually.
    – Buffy
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 0:22
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    @Erik : Whether an award has worth depends on whether people in the field consider it having worth. Your advisor is on of the people in your field, so you can ask them.
    – Christian
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 9:28
  • @Christian, I understand, it tricky to say my supervisor is somehow nice, but isnot recognized in the field or active, I managed to have contacts before joining the program. Actually the people who nominated me for the award are somehow considered the leaders of the field, but as I said it seems they are not interested as far as I can see.
    – user116038
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 13:24

Specific rules for specific purses

Most sources of money that could be (or are) used for funding travel have some specific conditions attached. For example, most of my travel is supported by research grants which have allocated funding to publish and present results of that research project - and for eligibility it does not matter if the goal of some travel is good or valuable in general, it matters strictly whether it fits that particular purpose and it would be literally illegal to fund travel for some good cause that doesn't fit the criteria. This is what I think I'm hearing from your supervisor, that they have in mind some funding source which could be used to fund that travel if and only if a publication is involved.

A university is likely to have some other, general funds available which could be tapped for generic purposes that are valuable to the university (e.g. this community award) but it's very likely that these funds are more (administratively) difficult to access, it's not something that your supervisor can approve themselves, and it would have to be escalated a few levels up in administration - at which point, depending on your institution, all kinds of political factors/issues/relationships might be decisive.

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