I will be presenting a paper at a major conference in the Spring: this will be my academic debut!

The issue is that I have a permament teaching job (middle school) that does not permit time off to pursue academic pursuits: how ironic. This conference entails an inter-continental trip and hence, three "sick days" off. Cough, cough.

My name is already up on the conference website for anyone to Google, i.e. my employer.

How do I politely ask the convenor of my session to hide my name or alter it in some form? Withrawal is not an option.

  • 13
    So you asked your boss, they told you no, and you plan to go anyway against their will by taking sick days? Feb 9 '16 at 7:29
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    As far as I can see, you are asking the conference organizer to lie for you. I don't think it's fair to ask him/her for that. Feb 9 '16 at 7:44
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    Take an unpaid leave instead of lying about sick days. It is not really you job's business what you do when you off job as long you're officially on leave. Feb 9 '16 at 15:56
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    "I have a permament teaching job (middle school) that does not permit time off to pursue academic pursuits: how ironic" Not really ironic. You're currently a middle school teacher - there's no research or academic pursuits here (like say, at a university)... so it's not unusual for them to not provide time off for such activities. Once you've achieved your PHD and work at a college/university, that sort of activity will be much more accepted as part of your job - not in addition to it.
    – SnakeDoc
    Feb 9 '16 at 16:58
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    @PatriciaShanahan, well, what a surprise, to have a duty to work on job you've signed for! :) That's how we all work, it's not something specific to academia. I'd say it is not academia question - it's more for workplace.SE. Feb 9 '16 at 18:54

From both an ethical and a practical standpoint, you don't. The ethical reason should be obvious (and has been stated in comments); you are lying to your employer about leave, and asking the conference organisers to be complicit in this (presumably without their knowledge). If you want to take sick time when it's not permitted, that is your risk to take, don't ask others to shoulder that for you.

From a practical standpoint, you should really ask yourself if hiding your name in the conference proceedings is in your best interests (relative to the chances of your employer discovering via Google what you were up to). I will presume you are going to this conference to begin/advance/change to an academic career. Reputation is gold in academia, and by concealing your activity, you are actively hurting yourself and reducing the profile of your work. If you don't care about the profile of your work and your academic footprint, then why go to a conference? They are expensive, and there are much nicer things to do with your time on a transcontinental trip.

  • 2
    Just out of interest, how practical is it to appear under a pseudonym which is used for all academic purposes? (Much as a maiden name might continue to be used professionally after marriage) Feb 9 '16 at 14:08
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    I don't really have experience with that, but to me it seems very inconvenient. It's probably worth it in some cases (in situations of personal safety, name changes, etc), but it's probably going to raise many questions when people wonder why your academic name and your usual name are different. Absent common explanations (like a maiden name), it just seems like it's inviting gossip.
    – z_dood
    Feb 9 '16 at 14:44
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    I have personally seen academics continue to use a name that they have formally changed away from (maiden name or other legal name change) in order to maintain their reputation they built up under their old name. I have never seen this be questioned, as it is perfectly logical to want all your publications to be easy to find by one name, so I don't think someone would have to give a reason.
    – FJC
    Feb 9 '16 at 18:35
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    @z_dood : thank you for your thoughtful and considered response. I am caught in the middle of an ethical dilemma for certain but overlooked how my decision might implicate the convenor. I was going to ask for my first name to be reduced to an initial, Your term 'academic footprint' really resonated with me. At this stage of my early career, establishing my reputation is of first and foremost importance. My full name it is. Decision made. Feb 10 '16 at 1:28
  • Glad to hear it. As an academic, the thought of hitting a conference and having no one actually know I was there gave me a little shiver to terror :-)
    – z_dood
    Feb 10 '16 at 7:27

I am not going to lecture you on the ethicality of taking sick leave to go to a conference. Not that it sounds like a great idea to me, but let's focus on your actual question.

How do I politely ask the convenor of my session to hide my name or alter it in some form? Withrawal is not an option.

What is the problem with just sending them an email, and saying that you "for personal reasons" don't want to show up as a presenter? It will seem slightly weird, but I can't really imagine them saying no to this, and "personal reasons" is generally accepted code for "I have my reasons, but I would rather not tell".

That being said, you should be aware that the Internet does not forget. If the web page is currently online with your name, there are definitely tools that will allow inquiring (and dedicated!) minds to later on find out that you actually were listed as a speaker at some point, even if they remove your name at some point.

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    not able to secure a leave to cover the three day conference and the conference is too important to withdraw from. Beleive me, I would gladly welcome an unpaid leave. Feb 10 '16 at 1:30
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    GENUINE THANK YOU TO ALL FOR YOUR HONEST OPINIONS and REPRIMANDS : ) Just to clarify though, my intention was never to alter my name but to just hide it on the website or to reduce my first name to an initial. Lastly, I find my job far from "boring": I've dedicated almost a decade to teaching. With my PhD in hand now, it's a battle between the classroom and the ivory tower! Feb 10 '16 at 1:46

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