32

My paper has not been published because none of the authors presented the paper. My supervisor (my co-author) was at the conference, but he did not show up to present. I can only assume he was tired that day (he is an old man), although he did manage to present two other papers. He also failed to inform the conference committee of his inability to present.

This is an IEEE conference. The paper was not published in IEEE Xplore, but even worse, it is not even mentioned in the proceedings.

What is really annoying is that they still want me to have their permission to submit it to another conference. This is what is written in their email:

Your previously-submitted IEEE Copyright form transferred ownership of this paper to IEEE. However, if you would like to resubmit this paper to another conference, please request permission to do so by sending an email message to pubs-permissions@ieee.org.

They also did not reimburse us for the hefty registration fees.

  1. How should someone in my position proceed?
  2. Shouldn't the conference at least mention the title of the paper in the proceedings?
  • 12
    Why could your co-author not present the work, at least in a superficial fashion? Also, did the terms and conditions you agreed to when signing up for the conference make any guarantees about getting reimbursed in the case of not showing up? Moreover, did the instructions for authors make any statements on whether or not a presentation is required for the paper to appear in the proceedings? From your text, it sounds like you signed up, but didn't attend the conference - did you know that beforehand, and if so, did you notify the conference organizers as soon as you knew you couldn't go? ... – O. R. Mapper May 24 '15 at 17:48
  • 41
    "My paper is not published because none of the authors presented the paper". Yes, they were right for doing that, because if everyone did that there would be no conference. "They did not reimburse us for the registration fees". Why should they? If you cannot afford to go there, why did you send the paper in this conference? I think you do not understand how conferences work, so please learn before making silly mistakes like that. – Alexandros May 24 '15 at 18:05
  • 17
    The implications of having assigned copyright to a venue, which then doesn't publish it, are interesting. – CodesInChaos May 24 '15 at 18:13
  • 38
    "Please there is no need to teach me lessons here". Funny you should say that. I see at least two lessons unlearnt here. – EnergyNumbers May 24 '15 at 19:13
  • 40
    Your supervisor acted extremely unprofessionally (did not present even though your paper depended on it, did not inform the organization, still hasn't told you anything) and he hurt your career. Instead of aiming your arrows at the conference organizers who did nothing wrong, aim them at him. – RemcoGerlich May 25 '15 at 19:59
81

A conference has a number of limited slots for presentations. When your paper is accepted for a conference, someone else's paper got rejected, because it was slightly worse than yours and slots were limited. In this sense, if you are not going to present your accepted paper, this a huge disservice to the conference (and the related community). As I already said in my comment that annoyed you, if everyone did the same thing (did not show up in the conference to present his paper) there would simply be no conference and this will be a huge waste of everyone's time (reviewers, PC comittees etc..). So, the first step is to understand that such a thing would normally never happen.

On the other hand we are still human and life emergencies happen. You may become sick before travelling to a conference and therefore not beeing able to present there. In this case, this is what emails are for. You should have notified the PC chairs that you were not going to make it and ask for leniency. On the other hand, what you describe is even more far-stretched. Your co-author did go to the conference, was probably paid his expenses from his institution and did not bother to show up at the time to present the paper. Imagine the similar example of some PHD student of going to a conference, partying the night before the presentation and not bothering waking up the next time to present. Have you considered the embarassment of the PC member responsible for your session, when they call out your name and noone shows up to present? And nobody even later this day or even two days later, bothers to send an email to apologize for this? Instead you think the conference organizers are in the wrong, because they are actually doing what they told you they would do (contrary to you). Not publish your paper if you do not show up.

A war with them would only hurt you and not them. Apologize sincerely, ask for permission to publish somewhere else and try to be as nice as possible. Do not upload to arxiv before settling things out. And in the next case, understand that in Academia your word is your currency. Make sure you do not break it for whatever reason and if you do (due to some inevitable emergency) make sure you apologize promptly.

  • 23
    @AJed If your supervisor includes the paper in CV and grant proposals as being at this conference, your supervisor will be academically dishonest: so far as the scientific world is concerned, the paper is simply an unpublished manuscript. – jakebeal May 24 '15 at 20:36
  • 54
    @AJed Actually, I think you really do need to ask what happened. You probably shouldn't treat it as a cross-examination, but your advisor needs to know your distress and work to resolve it. Explaining what happened is part of that. – jakebeal May 25 '15 at 0:45
  • 42
    @AJed: in all honesty (and being remote from the tension): you mention first that your supervisor (and co-author) "(...) wanted to go, he doesnt care if it is published or not, he didnt even write a word in it.". Then you say later that he "is a very honest man, one of the most professional people that you can ever think of.". This two claims objectively look disconnected. – WoJ May 25 '15 at 7:51
  • 11
    @AJed I think you are in your right to ask what happened, in a non confrontational way; if not for anything else, to figure out if there is anything you can do to prevent it from happening again. Other people in your situation would storm into your supervisors office demanding an explanation (which is not a good way to proceed). Actually, the fact that he has not told you already is somewhat worrying. – Davidmh May 25 '15 at 9:25
  • 21
    I agree with this answer, but I think something should be said towards the supervisor. They skrewed up, so it should be on them to save the article, not the student. – Raphael May 25 '15 at 10:41
49

The IEEE has a rather clear policy on failure to present: in general, a paper that is not presented at a conference will be withdrawn from the proceedings. I have recently been publications chair for an IEEE conference, and in that role you are explicitly asked after the conference to identify any papers that were not presented and thus need to be withdrawn from the proceedings.

The person who has caused this, really, is your co-author. Even if they had some emergency occur that prevented them from presenting (e.g., becoming ill), it is their responsibility to make a good-faith effort to inform the conference organizers so that some sort of alternate arrangement may be made. For example, I have seen papers presented remotely, or by a non-author serving as proxy, or shifted to a different day or time. Conference organizers are generally reasonable about such things. If your co-author was at the conference, capable of communicating, and failed to do so, then that is a real problem, and it is entirely reasonable of the organizers to treat it as a "no-show" and withdraw your paper. If they were hit by a bus or something like that so that they were completely unable to communicate, then that's a different problem, and a lost paper is not a big deal compared to such a health impact.

As for copyright and republication, though: I'd be surprised if you have any difficulty getting permission; the IEEE isn't likely to try to hold onto something they aren't publishing.

  • Re: your last paragraph: That's what I'd have assumed, too, if not for the quotation from the e-mail where it emphasizes that IEEE owns the paper and asks the OP to request permission before resubmitting elsewhere. What's the point of saying that if they're only too happy to let it go? (Is there some sort of legal complication?) – ruakh May 25 '15 at 2:30
  • 1
    @ruakh Yes, there is a legal problem: IEEE owns the copyright. – jakebeal May 25 '15 at 2:58
  • 7
    Even if it's vanishingly uncommon for a publisher to refuse to allow re-submission elsewhere, it's still quite important to go through the formal process of requesting (and receiving!) permission. Not only is it legally necessary, it's also the considerate thing to do. – hBy2Py May 25 '15 at 3:58
  • 2
    @jakebeal: Sorry, you misunderstand me. Obviously IEEE owns the copyright; that is in fact what the quotation says. What I'm asking is whether there's some sort of legal complication that prevents them from simply returning ownership automatically, since (as you say) they probably don't care to hold onto it anyway. – ruakh May 25 '15 at 7:33
  • 3
    @ruakh My guess is that it is due to the fact that the IEEE electronic copyright form is handled through a totally separate system than their archival publications. I've previously observed significant organizational friction between the sub-organizations of the IEEE handling different parts of the publication process, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if that was the same thing here, and they're just not set up to be able to do it automatically. Furthermore, why should they bother, given that this should be a very rare event? I'm just guessing here, though. – jakebeal May 25 '15 at 11:48
24

You tell us

  • Your supervisor and co-author was meant to present your paper
  • He didn't and you don't know why
  • He presented two other papers, but not yours
  • He never communicated with you that he would be unable to present your paper
  • He did not inform the conference committee that he would be unable to present the paper, he just didn't turn up

What should you do next? Speak to your supervisor.

Even were he not to blame, he would have a certain amount of responsibility to helping you fix this, by merit of being your supervisor.

You are well within your rights to ask, "So, what happened at the IEEE conference? I thought you were going to be presenting our paper." Do this in a neutral tone of voice, and listen to what he has to say. It's entirely possible he has a legitimate reason for this unusual behaviour, but being kept in the dark isn't doing you any favours.

Next, have a clear and honest conversation about what to do now. Don't blame him for the screw-up; your main focus is how to move forwards. Explain the problems you are facing and ask for his help in how to fix them. The conference organisers were entirely within their rights to keep your registration fee and not mention the paper in the proceedings, so focus on the copyright issue and how to move forwards from there.

If he does his duty as a supervisor he will help you move onwards and sort out the mess that was largely of his creating. Even if he doesn't, you will learn more about the situation (such as why he didn't turn up to present the paper), which will help you in your communications with IEEE should you have to forge ahead without his help.

21

I'm afraid you're out of luck here.

The paper was accepted and submitted, and someone should have presented the paper. Since no one withdrew the paper from the conference, and no one presented it, you're stuck at the mercy of the rules of the conference organizers.

Basically, the program organizers need not mention the paper in the proceedings, nor are they required to release the copyright claim on the paper. You will have to go through whatever procedures the conference organizers (in this case, IEEE) expect you to do if you want to resubmit the paper elsewhere.

17

I just want to add two points to Alexandros' excellent answer:

  • Registration fee is paid for attending the conference, not for publishing the paper. It may cover social events, banquet etc. Your supervisor did attend the conference, so it is unreasonable to ask for a reimburse.
  • This is not PC chairs' fault, and you only leave a bad impression by arguing with them. They are surely senior in your field, and are likely to be PC members, reviewers in your next conference. Having a bad impression about you may make your paper less likely to be accepted.
  • 1
    Actually you are not 100% in the first point: authors who publish more than one paper pays full fee for 1 paper and a reduced for two others. This is repeated for every 3 papers for the same author. – AJed May 25 '15 at 0:50
  • 1
    Also, my supervisor attended the conference .. could not present my paper .. presented two others. – AJed May 25 '15 at 0:51
  • 4
    @AJed Are you sure about that? I've never seen a conference where the fee was per-paper, rather than per-person. – David Richerby May 25 '15 at 8:00
  • 6
    @DavidRicherby: Unfortunately, quite some conferences do impose such rules. Whether this behaviour really exists is discussed in another Academia SE question, along with concrete examples (also check out the comments for those) of such conferences. – O. R. Mapper May 25 '15 at 8:26
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby organizing conferences is a very profitable business :) – AJed May 25 '15 at 12:46
-3

The situation shows some parallels with the legal concept "force majeure". The following site gives a practical explanation of this (you can also refer to Wikipedia):

Generally, death or illness of one of the parties to a contract is not considered a force majeure. However, under general contract principles of contract, if death or illness renders it impossible for that party to perform their side of the bargain, they are excused - See more at: http://actofgod.uslegal.com/what-constitutes-force-of-nature/illness-or-death/#sthash.W5aJqpRd.dpuf

Give that precedent, it would seem only fair in this case if IEEE were to release from your contract, and consequently release the copyright ownership, given that the co-author's inability to present was apparently due to health reasons. In your circumstances I would try to see if they are open to this line of reasoning.

  • 5
    the co-author's inability to present was apparently due to health reasons The OP did not say that. – scaaahu May 26 '15 at 12:16
  • The OP said "I can only assume he was tired that day (he is an old man)". That sounds like a health problem to me. – bvanlew May 26 '15 at 12:36
  • 2
    Being old and tired is not necessary a health problem. Please also note that the co-author failed to inform the conference committee of his inability to present. I don't see how to use health issue as an execuse unless the co-author can present a doctor's certificate to prove that there was indeed a health issue, You made very strong assumption here. – scaaahu May 26 '15 at 12:45
  • 1
    When someone is ill, incapacitated or simple exhausted contacting someone about a cancelled appointment may be the last thing on their mind. Will IEEE ask for a doctor's certificate? Maybe not - that is your assumption. They might simply choose to accept the OP's word as to the infirmity of the co-author. – bvanlew May 26 '15 at 12:57
  • 1
    The tiredness/oldness was simply OP's guess. OP actually has no information about why supervisor didn't turn up. – starsplusplus May 26 '15 at 13:26

protected by eykanal May 26 '15 at 12:56

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