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I am a new assistant professor. I have been invited for a conference discussant and said yes. However, I just realized that I am required to register for the conference (fee is $710) to serve as a discussant; my school doesn't pay for it because it is not my own study.

In this case, can I ask someone to present my comments instead of me? Is it rude to the organizer or harmful to my career?

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    Do I understand correctly that you have been invited to pay a fairly large sum of money? What kind of invitation is that?
    – Servaes
    Sep 26, 2021 at 8:36
  • The amount of money requested points to a predatory conference. It is nowadays relatively common that invited speakers are requested to pay the fee too. But I feel you have fallen in a trap. You shall be able to judge yourself if your work qualifies you as an invited speaker. It is already unusual that you are in this situation and come asking here.
    – Alchimista
    Sep 26, 2021 at 11:16
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    Just tell them that you won't go if you have to pay them any money. You don't need to give them any reasons. Your invitation will almost certainly be rescinded, and you will be $710 richer for it.
    – TonyK
    Sep 26, 2021 at 14:36

2 Answers 2

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The answer you need is from the conference, probably from the person that invited you.

But, make sure that this is a reputable conference. I get many "invitations" to less than reputable venues who are trolling for those fees.

For a reputable place, it might depend on why they asked you, specifically. If they want your expertise, then a substitute probably isn't going to satisfy them.

For a reputable place, you can also plead poverty and ask if the fee can be waived. Whether this works or not depends on lots of things, but if they really want you then --- maybe.

But ask them. An affirmative answer from this site does you no good at all.

A request to attend and speak at a conference not in your field is a fairly clear sign that it isn't reputable. The exception would be for superstars who might have something to say about the crossover between fields. For an assistant professor, I'd guess they want your money more than your ideas. Red flag.

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    If it isn't in your field it is a special reason to beware. Just ask, say you can't pay them, not will your institution. First for dropping the fees and if they say no, for the substitute to be invited. For the last, you can just suggest that person X might be able to accept an invitation.
    – Buffy
    Sep 25, 2021 at 19:55
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    Odds are it IS a predatory one. Make sure it isn't before even attempting any more steps.
    – Lodinn
    Sep 25, 2021 at 20:54
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    Did you mean "red flag" instead of "red herring"?
    – GoodDeeds
    Sep 25, 2021 at 21:54
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    @GoodDeeds, yes thanks
    – Buffy
    Sep 25, 2021 at 22:21
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    @neeehelp Just to emphasize a bit more strongly...**it is extremely likely this is a fraud, do not pay**. A new conference not in your field charging you a high fee to provide them a service: these are all huge red flags. They hope that you will feel so honored you will pay them money. There is absolutely no harm to your career for not participating in a predatory conference - there's more harm to do so.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 26, 2021 at 1:20
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Let's assume that the conference is organized in good faith and it is not a predatory one.

The organizers think your contribution is very relevant to the conference general success and they want you onboard.

Unfortunately, your current institution does not offer travel costs, because they do not understand the importance of the conference.

Once you reply this to who invited you, after a couple of days you will receive the reply from the organizers. They will have covered the session without your important contributions, therefore picking a second class discussant, or they may have decided they really need you. Since the organizers of the conference are really interested in you bringing your contributions, not in you being just a +1 carrying money and credibility to the conference with your affiliation and title, of course they will waive the conference fees. The fees waiver will most likely allow you to participate just for the day your contribution (you will have a no-frill conference, no banquet dinner and no excursion), plus maybe they will offer you some form of travel bursary.

Or, they will reply with a 10% discount, since most likely they are the usual predatory conference outsourcing all the communications to a cheap company which will organize the conference the same way they would organize a sight-seeing cruise in the Gowanus Canal.

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