There are so many conference announcements that use the phrase

the topics of interests include but are not limited to

I honestly cannot understand why such phrase is used. The announcment already lists more than 20 topics and then declares that the topics are not limited to the listed ones. I have two questions related to this issue:

  1. Why lot of topics are listed if they do not limit the topics of submissions?
  2. Does listing these topics mean that the submissions about listed topics are given higher priority?
  • 13
    I'd translate that to "as long as your talk is interesting to the majority of people that are interested in these listed topics, it's probably on topic".
    – Moriarty
    Feb 5, 2015 at 22:30
  • 1
    @Moriarty That is a fair explaination. However, this could be emphasized by writing "the topic of this conference include but not limited to X" where X is the name of the conference e.g. 16th International Conference of Machine Learning
    – padawan
    Feb 5, 2015 at 22:33
  • Maybe consider changing the title? The question in the title would really only be appropriate for the "English language learners" site, as the quoted phrase is completely clear and unambiguous. The question asked in the body is much more reasonable. Feb 5, 2015 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


This phrase is just standard boiler-plate verbiage.

The title of a conference is generally too vague to define a community precisely, because different people might interpret such a short phrase in different ways. Thus, when you are designing a call for papers, you generally try to give a bunch of examples as a way of giving a more concrete outline of the sort of community that you are trying to reach.

But it's a highly inexact procedure, and the boundaries of communities are generally fuzzy in any case. Thus, the "not limited to" phrase is included as a less informal way of saying, "If what we described kinda smells like your research, don't worry too much about whether it fits a bullet point, and just submit."

  • This is a very good answer. I suspect that sometimes the phrasing means something slightly different: "Ideally we'd like to see talks on the following topics, but we'll take what we can get." And of course you never really find out whether other people are talking about things of interest to you (and vice versa) until you get there. Feb 5, 2015 at 23:23
  • 5
    And also the organizers don't have to answer a bunch of questions like "is my talk on XYZ appropriate for your conference"...
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 6, 2015 at 0:07

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