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I am about to submit a paper to a conference. I just found out that the conference falls in Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Since I am an observant Jew, I don't want to present on Saturday. What are my options?

  1. I thought to submit the paper, and if it is accepted, explicitly ask the organizers to schedule me to another day. Is this possible/acceptable?

  2. Another option is to submit the paper, and if it is accepted and scheduled on Saturday (and the organizers don't agree to change this), then withdraw the paper. This is of course less preferable as it, probably, creates bad reputation if I don't present an accepted paper (I am also not sure if it will be published: Presented a paper in a conference, but my paper did not get published in proceeding )

  3. The third option is not to submit at all, in order to prevent the option that I have to withdraw an accepted paper.

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    It is definitely possible to ask the organizers to be not scheduled on a specific date. This happens often for budgeting reasons. Go for it, and if it is accepted contact the organizers to explain your issue. – dgraziotin Jul 21 '15 at 13:40
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    Why is "4. Ask the organizers about that situation before submitting your paper" not an available option? – user9646 Jul 21 '15 at 13:41
  • @NajibIdrissi This is also a good option, thanks – Erel Segal-Halevi Jul 21 '15 at 14:07
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    Option 5: Submit the paper and, if accepted, ask the organizers to not schedule on Saturday. If they can accommodate, great; if not, ask someone else to give the presentation on your behalf. – Mad Jack Jul 21 '15 at 14:17
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    I routinely do 1, and it's never been a problem (i.e. 100% of my scheduling requests have been accommodated). Just make your request sooner rather than later, to make it easier for the organizers. – ff524 Jul 21 '15 at 15:18
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If your paper is accepted is it perfectly appropriate to ask them to observe your religious guidelines. A lot of people will give special date restrictions when presenting in a conference for lesser things like they need to fly home by a certain date, their funding doesn't cover hotels for the length of the conference, or they just don't have a desire to stay the whole time.

Good luck with presentations!

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    As a conference chair I've generally been able to satisfy these kinds of requests without any trouble. – Brian Borchers Jul 21 '15 at 13:44
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    In fact, if it was a problem, that would mean you find that a majority of presenters have a problem presenting on a given day. It's highly likely that means you'll have an attendance problem on that day too. The sooner you find out about this potential problem, the better! – corsiKa Jul 21 '15 at 21:35
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I would say that this falls under the category of "reasonable requests for accommodation," and suggest pursuing option #1: first see if you're accepted, and then if you are, send a request to not be scheduled on Saturday. The conference schedule is almost certainly not yet determined (it will depend on the distribution of accepted papers), and the fraction of the schedule that is problematic for you is pretty small. Thus, if you are prompt in requesting accommodation after being notified of acceptance, there is a good chance that the organizers will be willing to make it happen. If they do not, however, you may need to ask a colleague to present or to withdraw.

Pragmatically, scheduling accommodations are more likely to happen in small conferences than in large conferences. If you're dealing with a single-track conference with a couple dozen talks, they will almost certainly be willing to flex the schedule for you. If you are dealing with a multi-track conference with hundreds of talks, however, it is possible that they simply will not bother because your talk means so little to them.

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    It's also possible that the organisers intend to group presentations into themed sessions, and if two presenters in the same session have conflicting requests then only one of them will be able to present. This doesn't mean that the organisers necessarily don't care about the talk they have to exclude. – MJeffryes Jul 21 '15 at 14:46
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    @MJeffryes 1) Having done my share of thematic grouping, I can tell you that it's often a very loose and post-facto process. 2) Even if session boundaries are rigid, moving a talk into its own displaced "session fragment" often works. My "don't care" observation comes from watching the behaviors of some particular massive conferences which really don't care---certain organizers sometimes hold an arrogant attitude where they feel it is a privilege for people to talk in their conference, and so presenters should bend to accommodate them and not the other way around. – jakebeal Jul 21 '15 at 14:55
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It may or may not work.

I don't know how it is in other fields, but in most medium-to-large conferences I've presented in (geosciences), people don't only submit to the conference, but upon submission, select a particular session. Sessions are scheduled to occur on particular days. The session convener cannot schedule presentations outside her or his particular session. To reschedule, the conference organisation would have to reschedule the entire session, something they are unlikely to be willing to do.

But, I would go ahead and submit. If you do end up being scheduled on a Saturday, and it does end up such that it cannot be rescheduled, I would ask a co-author to present on your behalf. This is not an optimal situation, but it is a lot better than withdrawing completely.

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