I am an undergraduate engineering student, I recently submitted an abstract for an upcoming conference in about a week. However, I have not produced any results yet and have not gone far in my research. Is it at all acceptable to present what I have done thus far? Or should I just cancel my attendance?

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    Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    May 16, 2022 at 17:30
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    What kind of conference contribution are you talking about? A poster, a talk...? And is your abstract realistic with what you will be able to present? May 16, 2022 at 17:33
  • Is this conference intended for students? Are you working with an advisor?
    – cag51
    May 17, 2022 at 0:34

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is acceptable to present what you've done, even if it doesn't quite reach a finished result. If you've done something, though, I doubt you actually have no results. Try to reframe what you've done already and look for the results that you actually have, even if the result is "X doesn't work because Y".

You can also present some of your next plans, and hopefully you'll get some feedback from other attendees on those plans that will help in your next steps.

Your research advisor is a good guide for these things - make sure you're checking in with them regularly, and don't be afraid to ask them questions like this.

  • Thanks for the advice, the feedbacks will indeed be quite helpful so I guess its worth a try
    – haiq
    May 16, 2022 at 17:28
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    (+1), especially for "X doesn't work because Y". I've both attended and read published reports of many talks that essentially surveyed what is known and what is not known about a certain topic the speaker is interested in -- 3 examples by people I know (one was my Ph.D. supervisor) are talk 1 and talk 2 and talk 3. May 16, 2022 at 18:45
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    You will almost certainly get feedback and probably suggestions on continuing. Be prepared to capture those ideas. A small pocket notebook is good for that sort of thing.
    – Buffy
    May 16, 2022 at 19:10

It is definitely fine to present what you have worked on thus far. Are you sure that you will have no results at all (even small steps) that you couldn't frame as part of a pilot study for your main research/study? I often see presentations at conferences that present preliminary findings, or even failed experiments, followed by their next steps. As an undergraduate, the experience you will gain from engaging with your peers at this stage will be really valuable and help further guide your research anyway.

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