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I am an undergraduate who recently worked on a 1-page abstract (as a team of 3) and got it accepted to the conference.
However, neither our advisors nor the university agreed to aid us on the registration fee, which means that our paper will not be presented (I am not saying published here, because 1-page abstracts are not published in the journal).

Now I am wondering if I included this in my CV, how this paper would appear to whoever's reading my CV.
To be more specific, I will probably be applying for a Master's degree, and I was intending to use this to simply showcase my various experience and that I worked hard.

The paper I wrote is not related to the major I will be applying in.
I am basically asking this question whether it will be worth it to pay for all the fee ourselves to get it published(presented), or would it serve its role as it is.

Thank you in advance.

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    Why did you submit a paper to a conference you had no funds to attend? Did your advisor ask you to submit to the conference, or did you and your team independently submit your work hoping that, if you got it accepted, that someone would bail you out? Or did the money just dry up between submission and acceptance?
    – J...
    Feb 10 at 19:50
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    Could you submit it to arXiv or to similar services? Looks like better than nothing. Feb 10 at 20:19
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    I think your field is extremely important here, and possibly even subfields. E.g., in theoretical CS, conference submissions are worth a lot, while in physics, depending on the field it can be super-important or completely irrelevant.
    – user151413
    Feb 11 at 1:34
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    There might be the possibility (check with the conference!) that somebody else (who is not a co-author) presents the paper. So if you know anybody from your department presenting there it might (only might!) be an option. Also do you only lack funding for the registration fee (or plane tickets)? Usually students registration fee can be quite low, did you ask them?
    – lalala
    Feb 11 at 9:22
  • Lalala gives a good suggestion. This can be done even underground if the paper is a poster (if the presentation is scheduled) or just the going researcher tell the organisers, with you/your supervisor CC.
    – Alchimista
    Feb 11 at 13:58
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Submitting work to a conference, having that work accepted, and presenting that work at the conference has value, such accomplishments should appear on CVs.

Withdrawing an accepted work from a conference due to no funding shows lack of foresight, perhaps even disrespect (by wasting time), and likely shouldn't appear on CVs.

Seek other funding sources, e.g., the conference itself or a national funding body, perhaps ask your advisors for suggestions.

Whether you and co-authors pay yourselves depends on personal factors, e.g., can you afford to?

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    @JadenPark some of the bigger conferences make student travel grants available. It can't hurt to check whether this holds for your conference as well. Feb 10 at 8:58
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    "Withdrawing an accepted work from a conference due to no funding shows lack of foresight" - I do not doubt some might interpret it that way, but this stance sounds slightly out of touch with reality to me. Typically, the formal process for getting money is that you first need to justify why you really need that money (by showing that your work has been accepted), and based upon that, you can solicit the money. I worked in well-funded places where this was a mere formality, but I know from various contacts of mine that actually getting the solicited money is not always a given. Feb 10 at 10:46
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    @O.R.Mapper Any such formal process is usually preceded by an informal process, in which the funding should be sorted out before submission, so there is a lack of foresight involved. That being said accidents happen and no-one expects undergraduate students to already know how things work. Personally though, if there is any blame I'd put it on the advisors. If you are not willing to offer some of your own funding after everything external falls through, then maybe you shouldn't tell your students to submit to a conference.
    – mlk
    Feb 10 at 12:22
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    @mlk: “…an informal process, in which the funding should have been sorted out before submission” Ideally, yes, and at well-functioning and well-funded institutions this is the case. But I’ve known/worked with several people from institutions where the funding process just wasn’t this predictable; the gamble of “submit, then hope that one of their potential funding sources will come through” was the only option. And suggesting students in such department shouldn’t be encouraged to submit to conferences at all — that’s yet another barrier for students from less-advantaged backgrounds.
    – PLL
    Feb 11 at 10:15
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    @mlk I think you are making some very strong assumptions, through a geographically biased lens, in the comments on formal an informal processes, and the availability of funds. Funding for research and travel grants vary dramatically between countries (and organisations within countries). So, to me, the “lack of foresight” comment is off base Feb 11 at 20:52
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As the answer of user2768 has stated, doing research which leads to an accepted abstract at a conference is a good accomplishment for an undergraduate. Congratulations. Doubly so since -- for whatever combination of reasons -- you don't seem to have extensive support from your more senior advisor(s).

If you find the funds to attend the conference and present the paper, you will turn this into an accomplishment that will be meaningful on your CV for years to come, not only to be admitted to a Masters' degree but afterwards. You will also hopefully learn a lot at the conference and begin to make contacts, which is valuable in its own right.

However, I deviate from the other answer's perspective that if you need to withdraw instead, it shouldn't appear on your CV, and would indicate lack of foresight or disrespect. This may be true for an established academic, who has or may be expected to have a stable portfolio of funding, but is not true of an undergraduate or other emerging scholar. (I hope this is true in all fields.)

If you are unable to secure funding for at least one of your team to attend to present and do need to withdraw, I think you should definitely mention your accomplishment (marked as "accepted abstract at ___" and leave it at that) on your CV at this stage in your career, especially for the purposes of Graduate School admission. It will help document, as you said, that you do have research experience of some sort already. Were I on an admissions committee, I would look at it favorably in this context.

The difference comes afterwards. I suspect that when you are job hunting after your graduate degree, you will censor out such an "incomplete accomplishment" because you will have more recent, more standard, and "completed" conference presentations and/or publications. While if you do find the means to attend the conference and present, the presentation will remain a line item on your CV documenting your sucessful research activity is of longer duration. This will quite likely have incremental value at that time.

There will, of course, be purists who will argue that nothing should ever make it onto your CV that will later be censored out (i.e., that your CV is a universal and evergreen list of all your accomplishments, as opposed to a résumé, less used in academia, which presents a subset of accomplishments chosen as most relevant at that moment for a specific purpose.) That is, perhaps, a good overall aspiration. But there are many junior academics who have at various points listed "submitted" or "manuscript in progress" items on their then-current CVs, since those were meaningful accomplishments at the time. But where for various reasons those items did not progress further, and were silently removed from the CV later.

Admissions committees get it! And they want to see whatever evidence you've got of academic and research experience and potential. So congratulations and good luck!

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  • I deviate from the other answer's perspective that if you need to withdraw instead, it...would indicate lack of foresight or disrespect. This may be true for an established academic...but is not true of an undergraduate or other emerging scholar: An emerging scholar and, to a lesser extent, an undergraduate should understand what they are doing. Conference websites regularly explain that at least one author must attend the event and present accepted work. In submitting, authors are taking on that responsibility. They shouldn't shirk their obligation.
    – user2768
    Feb 11 at 14:45
  • (I appreciate exception circumstances do exist, e.g., academia.stackexchange.com/questions/162470/…)
    – user2768
    Feb 11 at 14:45
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    @user2768, submitting with no intention of attending would indeed be inappropriate. However, where we differ is what you call "exceptional circumstances" I fear is quite commonplace. In the one major conference I cochaired (well-respected, though in a different field), ~20% of the accepted abstracts were no-shows, for a variety of reasons. In any case, I don't completely disagree with you, but I wrote a different answer since I felt a) it's important to emphasize the accomplishment not the criticism, and b) I think the author should for now list in CV even if he cannot present.
    – Houska
    Feb 11 at 15:05
  • Having an abstract accepted by a conference comitee doesn't prove that any actual work has been done. This might not apply generally, but my observation is, that especially with tight deadlines, the abstract that is submitted may be only a plan of what you are about to do, not a summary of what you actually have done. There's also the full spectrum in between. Hence, the abstract alone, even if accepted, does not necessarily prove/represent anything.
    – Dohn Joe
    Feb 11 at 15:10
  • @DohnJoe. Agreed (though depends on the field). So -- if I were on the hypothetical admissions committee -- ideally I'd love to see that a paper/preprint has been written or other evidence work was completed. Of course, it needs to be said as well that a poster or presentation made also doesn't necessarily prove much, in the absence of a peer-reviewed endproduct....
    – Houska
    Feb 11 at 15:14

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