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I was invited to give a talk at an important conference, which has now been canceled due to coronavirus. Can I still list the fact that I was invited on my CV, with a parenthetical note? It's not the same as if I turned down an invitation or failed to show up. Obviously this is not really that big of a deal and I can accept it if that's not a suitable thing to do, but I'm trying to find a silver lining.

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Yes. I had a similar experience where my agency restricted travel and did not allow me to present. In my case, I listed that the presentation was delivered by someone else who could attend.

Matching the style of your CV, I would write something like:

Academic, F. My cool title. Awesome conference. City, State. March 2020. Invited oral presentation. Unable to deliver, meeting canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak.

Based upon personal experience, I will now be adding a similar entry to my own CV. Also, based upon some of the comments, here's why I would list an invited talk even if the talk was not delivered: The invitation is an honor in itself because it shows people recognize you, at some level, as an expert on a topic. Thus, the invitation has value besides simply delivering the actual talk.

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    @RichardErickson The impact of an invited talk is usually quite big regardless of the field, assuming "invited" also entails a plenary or some kind of elevated position in a conference program. All the more reason that saying you were invited to give a talk that you ended up not delivering just seems like desperate CV padding. – user108403 Mar 16 at 16:58
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    @artificial_moonlet: By your logic, we shouldn’t add invited talks to our CVs at all, because there is no quality control. Having sat through some crappy invited talks, I get where you are coming from, but I see no practical solution to this problem. The fact that you were invited reflects your previous impact on the community and thus it makes sense to list it on a CV, no matter whether it actually happened, was good, etc. Of course, actually delivering a good invited talk ideally increases your chances of being invited again and thus having more than one invited talk to add to your CV. – Wrzlprmft Mar 16 at 17:52
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    @Wrzlprmft My logic is that if you're going to list talks on CVs, just list the ones that actually happened. – user108403 Mar 16 at 18:48
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I would say yes, provided that you label it correctly. Just add a sentence that the conference was cancelled for health reasons. You can also say that the talk was accepted, but not delivered because ...

For some conferences the talk will be in the proceedings or follow up journal. It that case your write up will be available to people in any case. In fact, it is normal that the reach of a conference is normally wider than just the people who attend.

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    Huh, even though I'm in the same position as the OP (young researcher, want to boost CV), it doesn't seem appropriate to list things that you almost did on a CV. – user108403 Mar 11 at 21:19
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    If it were false, there would hardly be any reason for conferences. Thee are a lot of ways to extend "reach" including collaboration. – Buffy Mar 11 at 21:38
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    @artificial_moonlet but is that the case? Was the speaker really invited or was he/she almost invited? – Andrea Lazzarotto Mar 12 at 10:25
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    @artificial_moonlet As I take this - the achievement is having been invited to give the talk. So, it is something that has actually been done. Of course you have to say that you were invited but the talk itself never occurred. In comparison, if the OP had submitted a paper to a seminar that never occurred, then they did not achieve anything (at least of a third party validated nature). – Ponder Stibbons Mar 12 at 11:18
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    @JeffE: Why was it on the CV in the first place if there was no achievement up to now? What is now different? – user111388 Mar 16 at 20:21
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Technically yes, you could put it in with the appropriate caveat - but I wouldn't if I were you.

It sounds like you're straining too much for recognition. If it weren't for covid-19, I would think less of you if I read about your cancelled-conference-planned-talk in your CV. The way things are my reaction would be more neutral... but then - next year someone will read your CV and the "Corona crisis" will have ended already.

Notes:

  • Caveat: I don't evaluate academics' CVs.
  • I realize the covid-19 epidemic turns everything upside down, but it's just one talk.
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    @user2768: I have a hard time to see it as a non-achievement. At least in my field, it is an achievement to be invited to give an (important) talk -- you get invited because of your previous talks, papers, connections etc. But than, you can give the worst talk ever and you will have achieved "has given a talk", nobody can take this away fron you. It feels to.me that the real achievement in my field is "being invited to give", not "having given a talk". – user111388 Mar 13 at 18:39
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    @user111388: IMO it isn't a non-achievement. but rather an achievement which wasn't realized. – einpoklum Mar 13 at 18:50
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A speech is a noteworthy achievement; an undelivered speech isn't. Since CVs focus on achievements, I suggest the OP omits their undelivered invited speech from their CV. (At best, it is an achievement of little merit.)

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Rather than listing it with (already) delivered talks and adding a parenthetical note, I would suggest listing it under a separate heading, such as 'Upcoming Invited Talks', where you can give the planned details. The parenthetical note could be 'Postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19 outbreak in xx country/venue.'

Two reasons for this: (1) It shows that you are being upfront about it and distinguishing it from talks already delivered. Some may interpret the alternative as straining too hard to show an achievement. At the same time, it underscores that you have been found worthy of nomination.

(2) It is easier to simply remove this section, should you wish to edit the CV/make a modified version for some purpose. If it is in your main list, you need to ensure that numbering and sequencing is not affected. It is quite common to have different versions of one's CV for different purposes; some are very elaborate while others focus on the major achievements only. By keeping this/similar talks separate, you can easily include/exclude them when you like.

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    This seems like a good balance, especially the point about having different versions of the CV. – user108403 Mar 17 at 11:19

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