Is it socially acceptable to present a conference paper which is not (yet) highly original research?
Being in the humanities, research requires much of literature reading rather than experimental or lab work. So, in a sense, it's inevitable that I need to take the existing literature as a starting point.
Personally, I consider journals to be the proper place to disseminate original research. As a starting PhD student I am trying to participate in workshops and conferences as much as possible.
Many times my presentations are work-in-progress and a personal synthesis of the vast amount of literature I have been processing. These presentations help me to make a "coherent story" of months of reading work. Making such a coherent story also helps me to orient my future research and accomplish intermediate research goals. Many times I submit an abstract to conferences to have some "external motivation" to finish some work before a certain deadline. Repeating this process, eventually, I am able to integrate these research goals to a higher plane where truly original research can be done.
Furthermore, I also consider conferences in a more broad sense. Rather than being a place to impress other people with your results, it's an opportunity to receive feedback and criticism. I also consider conferences as occasions where people with different backgrounds can meet each other, that is, meet each other qua human beings (not their research).
To formulate my story as a question: (a) How common is my vision of conferences? (b) Is it socially acceptable to present something which is derivative work-in-progress (and not yet revolutionary research?)