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I have an upcoming presentation in an international conference in a bit more than a month. I wrote the abstract for my presentation in February, in which I said I would present early results. It is even in the title of my submission: "presentation of [project] and first results". However, I am progressing much slower than I expected and I will probably not have results by then.

What can I do? My coworker (project leader) and I have already paid for the participation and prepared the trip, which is a big expense for our project. Can I just send an email to the conference saying "actually, I will not include results in my presentation" and attach a new abstract? I feel amateur and lame. Or maybe, it is too late for me to change? This terrifies me and I feel miserable.

I read this question and I feel like my case is a bit different because I specifically wrote that I would present results.

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  • are the reasons why your progession was slow interesting enough to present? That is, did you hit any interesting roadblocks and had to apply interesting solutions to circumvent them?
    – Sursula
    May 4, 2023 at 13:09
  • I think most of us have been there before... Do you actually have absolutely no results, or just not particularly good results that you want to and will make better in the future?
    – Jon Custer
    May 4, 2023 at 14:18
  • You'll have to discuss what you are trying and whether you are close to finding anything new.
    – Tom
    May 4, 2023 at 15:01

2 Answers 2

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Since you don't have results to present, you are going to have to bite the bullet and revise your presentation topic to something else. The sooner you make this change and communicate it to the conference organisers the better. You should revise your presentation topic and abstract along with revising the substance of your talk, and do your best to have this change reflected in the conference program. If it is too late to amend the conference program then the audience is just going to have to live with getting the ol' switcheroo when they attend your talk.

The good news is that audience members are not going to care about this —or think badly of you— so long as you give them a good talk on a substitute topic. Create a new presentation on some other aspect of your research project, or even an unrelated problem or issue (perhaps a talk on Academic Tips for Dealing with Deadlines in Delayed Research Projects). Make sure it is interesting and adds value for your audience. If you can enlighten and entertain then no-one is going to be too worried that the content of the talk did not match the brochure.

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  • Hey, thank you for your answer and sorry for the delay. The conference is approaching. My coworker/project leader told me that it's probably going to be alright by just presenting what we are doing in an accurate and specific way.
    – C. Crt
    May 26, 2023 at 8:23
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    HI and sorry agian for the delay in validating the answer. The conference finally took place and... It went very well. I was stressed, stuttering, but I presented my stuff and it still worked out. Nobody told me "you said you were going to have results but you don't have any". I just showed our recent progresses, etc., and it went smoothly. Thanks a lot for the great answer in all cases. Cheers!
    – C. Crt
    Jul 3, 2023 at 14:14
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    That is great news --- congratulations.
    – Ben
    Jul 3, 2023 at 22:53
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I think answers to the linked question are fine. Chances are changing the abstract is no longer possible, so I'd recommend to milk what you have done, what you know, and what you plan to do in such a way that it makes an as interesting as possible presentation. Always think of the audience and what could be of interest to them. You can well say that you don't have some of the results you expected to have when submitting the abstract. This is a not too unusual thing to happen. People are used to something being presented that is not 100% what the abstract says. Try to entertain the audience well anyway.

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