My postdoc finished 9 months ago. My former supervisor has asked me to submit an abstract on my work to a conference next year.

No-one intends that I will attend the conference. My ex-supervisor has an invited talk there, and basically wants current and former group members to also submit contributed talks that can also be presented if the main authors don’t show up.

The supervisor essentially wants to be able to give three or four talks for the cost of one attendee. I don’t really feel this is right. On the other hand I also want to remain on good terms with them, as they are a reference on my current job applications, and we are also still working on papers together.

Should I refuse to submit an abstract? Or just bite the bullet and write something?

  • 3
    He essentially wants to be able to give three or four talks for the cost of one attendee. - Does the conference allow this? If so, what's the problem?
    – ff524
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:01
  • 2
    If he says you can present if you attend, then I don't see any poor intent if you choose not to and he presents your work in your stead.
    – Compass
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:09
  • 1
    I do not think cost is the issue here. One does not pay to present. One pays to attend. Honesty is the issue. Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:33
  • There are no funds available for me to attend, so I could only present myself if I self fund. Which my old boss knows I can't afford.
    – Bob
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 19:00
  • 1
    Who are the authors? Just you? Or you and your advisor? Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


I think it can be acceptable if and only if it is clearly communicated in the submission that the former supervisor is the intended presenter. Deliberately misrepresenting who will present at the conference is dishonest. If in doubt, contact someone at the conference.

  • 3
    On most (CS) conferences I have been to, it seemed fully acceptable that the identity of the presenter was not known (to the session chair) until as late as the beginning of the session. At this point, I fail to see how there could be any "misrepresenting who will present", unless the OP's advisor personally claims he is someone else while talking in front of the audience. Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 13:07

I would say it is right: I have never seen any conference put a cap on the number of talks a speaker can give, and it's quite commonplace that the speaker is not the primary author.

  • I agree it is common, but that does not justify deliberate dishonesty. I generally assume that if the primary author does not show up it is due to honest mistake. For example, I once presented for someone who was having a baby during the conference. Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:35
  • 2
    @AnonymousPhysicist Seems like there are some customs in the OP's field that I am not aware of: is submitting an abstract considered as a commitment from the primary author to present? Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:37
  • In my opinion, yes it is a commitment unless otherwise specified, because if you do not show up you have wasted the reviewers' and attendees' time. Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:47
  • I agree it isn't unusual for a co-author to present, but as @AnonymousPhysicist says, this is normally when the primary has had to pull out at short notice
    – Bob
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 18:48
  • 2
    @Bob Well if the conference specifies no rule, you can't break any! :) Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 15:13

You must log in to answer this question.

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