I have presented a paper at a conference and received a certificate proving that I was a presenter. The conference does not have an English agenda, so it would not be easy for an application committee to find proof that I was the one who presented it online. I am now submitting the paper as one of my writing samples for a Ph.D. application. Should I attach the presenter certificate to the paper, in order to prove to the committee that I was really the one who presented it?

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    I'm afraid I don't understand what you're asking. What is this proof of being a presenter? What do you mean by "merge"? What are you planning to do with the merged document? – Nate Eldredge Oct 13 '14 at 4:09
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    The vast majority of conferences don't offer 'certificates' to presenters, and no reasonable institution will expect to see such a certificate (or any other 'proof' of presentation). (Same applies to this related question.) – ff524 Oct 13 '14 at 4:14
  • Thank you all. I am applying to phd programs and I asked the society for the certificate of being a presenter; for they do not have an English agenda or post. So I think it would be necessary for me to provide a sort of proof, like I also provide the preprints of my accepted papers. – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 5:09
  • @ff524: Then would anybody can claim to have presented her papers at some conferences? – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 5:10
  • @ff524: And why we applicants have to clarify that the journals publishing our papers are not predatory to a certain degree? Isn't it because we want to prevent ourselves from being considered as one who bluffs? I think the same principle applies to claimed conference papers. – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 5:14

As per the answer to your previous question, you are not required to spontaneously supply proof for everything in your CV, and it would look extremely unusual to attempt to do so in this case.

The fact that you could be asked to substantiate anything written in your CV, and the consequences of subsequently being caught in a lie, are considered enough of a deterrent to prevent people from lying about their credentials. The standard practice in academia is not to include "proof" of everything on a CV unless explicitly asked for proof of some kind.

So in answer to your question of whether you should merge the "certificate of being a presenter" into the paper presented at the conference as part of your PhD application: No, you should not. You should not submit such a "certificate" at all unless you are explicitly asked for it, and I have never heard of anyone being asked for such a thing.

  • Thanks. Since my homeland is relatively unknown to the whole world and the conference is an annual conference of a local society, I especially desire to prevent me from being considered dubious. Please understand my situation and my intention. I know clearly that I am not seeking for myself troubles. – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 5:45
  • If possible, please let me know if you are a reviewer of an admission committee, would you view the records of a person graduated from a locally well-known university in an unknown country more stringent than those who graduated from the ivy league? – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 5:46
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    @Kurt Certainly the presentation is viewed differently because it's a local conference in an unknown country - but differently in the sense that it carries less weight and won't help as much for admissions, not that they'll suspect you are lying about it. Supplying "proof" that they haven't asked for is not going to help your case in any way, and will just look strange. – ff524 Oct 13 '14 at 5:48
  • Ah, thank you. Maybe cultural difference takes place. Few months ago I discussed with a professor in my department my CV and writing samples. He told me, "How will you view applicants from extremely unknown countries? You doubt them". That gave me an impression that maybe more advanced countries would view me as such. Seems to me I had been be wrong. – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 5:54
  • @Kurt "Doubt" as in "doubt that their experiences are meaningful by Western academic standards," possibly. "Doubt" as in "suspect them of lying on their CV," not likely (unless there are things on the CV that seem especially improbable). – ff524 Oct 13 '14 at 5:56

One thing to keep in mind is that certificates from a conference are easy to fake: anyone can make a plausible-looking certificate on their own computer, and the admissions committee will have no idea what a real certificate would look like. (And even if the admissions committee somehow knew what it should look like, an applicant could copy/modify someone else's certificate.) This makes them almost completely useless for verification. The certificates may satisfy bureaucratic requirements among those who use them, but in practice they won't actually prove anything.

I would recommend against including these certificates with your application. It looks suspicious to me, like you're presenting it as stronger evidence than it actually is. In particular, people might wonder whether you are trying to prevent a more detail investigation by preemptively offering a certificate.

However, this isn't a particularly important issue, since the admissions committee probably isn't worried about whether you actually presented the paper at this conference. A conference presentation is not meaningful or worthwhile for its own sake, regardless of quality. There are conference with low standards (where bad work is sometimes presented) or no standards at all (where anyone can present whatever they like). Instead of being worried about whether you presented the paper, the admissions committee will instead wonder whether presenting the paper means anything. That's much more subtle question, since the only way to convince them that the quality is high is if someone knows enough about the conference to judge its quality and is trusted by the committee. In practice, the way this typically works is that if the committee really wants more information, they find a member of the department who has a contact in the country in question and ask them for their opinion of the conference. (This can also lead to verifying attendance if necessary, since the contact will presumably have the appropriate language skills and can also get in touch with the organizing society.)

  • Thanks so much. Your suggestions, together with ff524's, are strong enough to convince me not to put the proof in my writing samples; for it would backfire. That prevents me from wasting time. – Megadeth Oct 13 '14 at 7:38

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