10

We published a paper last year when I was a student. I submitted this paper’s abstract to a conference this year after I graduated and I did not ask my coauthors about this. Now this abstract get accept and will be presented at the conference. One of the coauthor who is my previous supervisor sent an email to me saying this is ethical problems that I should not present without her permission. She looks very mad. I wonder if she is true that I need all co authors permission to present our published paper at conference. I planned to cite our paper and mentioned this is a teamwork when presenting at the conference. What should I do?

10
  • 5
    Is it normal in your field to present already published work at a conference without modification? Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 17:36
  • I think so. I saw my previous supervisor present her students published work after they graduated.
    – QWERTY
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 17:41
  • 2
    Another reason that I did not even think about to ask them is that she used to present this work without mention other coauthors. I recalled when I made the slides and I put other coauthors names on the cover page and she asked me to remove their name because “only we two” are presenting. So I thought if only I am going to present it I don’t need to ask them…I just acknowledge them is alright…
    – QWERTY
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 19:02
  • 6
    As far as I can see, once I've published a paper, anybody can read it and report on its content at a conference, provided they appropriately cite the published work. It makes no difference whether they're coauthors or just some random person. It would be nice if they let me know about it, but they don't need my permission. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 1:16
  • 1
    Can you clarify if you actually put only your name on the abstract or the names of all co-authors of the journal publication? Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 17:13

3 Answers 3

10

In my view, there are at least two distinct categories of conferences, though they may not be explicitly labeled as such and I'm sure there are examples that fall somewhere in the middle.

The first type are those where people gather from all over (though the geographical extent can vary) to present and learn about new work to their field (however broadly/narrowly defined). These are often regularly scheduled affairs (e.g., annually), may require that content presented be fully original (though in my field the expectation is that it is not published at submission, not necessarily that it is not published by presentation), and typically have some sort of review process (ranging from a basic check "yes this is science", to a full detailed peer-review).

For that type of conference, you submit work with coauthors, so you need permission from all coauthors to submit and present. Just like for papers submitted to journals, it's considered rude or outright unethical to submit to multiple conferences like this.

The second type of conference is usually more local, and more often consists of a collection of invited presenters. They are likely to be ad hoc, or have shifting topics. The attendees may be almost all people who live/study nearby, though speakers may come from further away.

For this type of conference, people present as individuals and credit their coauthors (and cite their own published work and work of others) throughout their talk. The presentations are really no different from other types of invited talks (including interview talks), the only thing that makes anything different is that they are grouped together. Sometimes these talks (just like other invited talks) have original content or in-progress work - I would get permission before using anything that hasn't been shown before - but otherwise they are expected to be on things already presented elsewhere. If all the figures, concepts, etc. presented are already published, then in principle there is nothing that would even prevent someone else from giving a talk about your work, so there's no need to get explicit permission. Implicit permission is already granted by having the work published.

I'm not certain which category you fall into. Your coauthor seems to think it's the first type, as does your submission method: you sent in an abstract for approval, and it was accepted. If you had other people listed as coauthors on that abstract, you need their permission to submit. On the other hand, it seems like this is work that's already published. If the conference expected work to be novel, then you've possibly also broken the submission rules (even if it was accepted, it's possible they didn't realize it was published if you didn't say so).

5
  • Thank you for your reply. I think this conference is in the second category. The paper was published in a journal which was in the first category. It was accepted for presentation and publication. And this conference is more like a latest update in our field, not many researchers but more practitioners. But as she is angry, I called and and apologized, and I said I will put all coauthors name in the cover page of presentation and cite our paper. She is satisfied finally. I was surprised to know I should ask permission before submitting to conference. But I know it now. Thank you!
    – QWERTY
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 21:28
  • 4
    FWIW most of the conferences I've been to are a mix of the two types: they are regularly scheduled annual conferences, national or global, but the presentations are based on work that was already published elsewhere, and each presentation is credited to the presenter, not the other authors of the original work. So I think it's not that there are two types of conferences, it's that there are various conventions which differ from one academic field to another and perhaps between individual conferences.
    – David Z
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 23:26
  • 2
    Put another way: there are many conferences where presenting is an act of publication (it is the first time the public has an opportunity to hear about your work, and your paper may appear in the published conference proceedings), and there are other conferences where that is not the case. You need agreement from all coauthors to publish your joint work in any way, but you don't need their agreement simply to present it (i.e. talk about it in front of an audience), if that presentation is not an act of publication.
    – kaya3
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 13:34
  • I do not agree that the conferences where already published work is presented are more local. In my experience, the exact opposite is true. They are the huge conferences like the annual APS, AGU, EGU or similar meetings. They are huge. And people often show work that has already appeared in journals. Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 14:46
  • @VladimirFГероямслава Seems to be a field by field difference. In my area the big conferences are all new work. For smaller conferences, they realize people want to save their new stuff for something bigger, so they accept old stuff too.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 16:17
9

In life sciences, chemistry, biology and related fields you publish and peer review papers in journals, you don't publish in conferences. Giving a talk about a published paper or displaying a poster about it at a conference would not require asking permission from any of your coauthors. The work is already published, the author list is fixed and the authors are acknowledged in your talk or your poster.

For unpublished work you should make sure everyone is on board with your general strategy around how much you want to present to the outside before it is published. That doesn't necessarily mean asking for permission from everyone every time you show parts of it at a conference, but your collaborators should know and agree with the choice to show this material in general.

In these fields it would usually be assumed that e.g. PhD students show part of the work in progress in posters at conferences they attend. If there are specific concerns about sensitive information, e.g. if you plan to patent something or if there is the perception of a high chance of getting scooped, you have to be more careful about what you want to show. But apart from that the general expectation is that scientist will show their work in progress at conferences.

There are obviously very large difference between fields here, this answer does not apply to any field where conferences are a way of publishing your results and an alternative or replacement for journals.

4
  • Thank you for your reply . I agree. This is not a conference to publish results. More like a workshop for discussion and networking. I was so shocked to receive her email saying I am unethical to do this. But even when I called her yesterday, she still blamed me saying if other people know this, they will all think I am an unethical person and I will be over in the academic area (although I am in the industry for a while). I was worried and scared yesterday but did not understand why she was so mad.
    – QWERTY
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 13:57
  • As a chemist, I totally disagree with the first paragraph of this answer. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 17:02
  • 2
    @Snijderfrey then please post your own answer or elaborate. Right now your comment does not help to clarify anything. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 17:08
  • Sorry, at the moment it is unclear whether OP put the names of the other co-authors on the conference abstract. I sort of assumed this, and in this case there is no way of not getting the co-authors' consent before abstract submission. From the other answers and comments, it also appears controversial if the other names would have to go on the abstract. But that is another question. Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 17:32
4

If a result has been published, everyone can present it at a conference as long as the authorship is clearly communicated. In fact, researchers should present works of others in their own talk just to show that the topic is of general interest, and to indicate what progress has been made.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .