I have a little bit of the dilemma here... A month ago, I signed up for a conference talk and I got accepted to present there... However , I actually found out about that conference and decided on my own to give a talk... I did not tell my advisor about it. At that moment, I did not think much. And part of me forgot about it since I was so busy with everything else.

Now, thinking back, it occurs to me that I might have done something stupid. From what I know , most PhD students go to and give talk at conferences because their advisors tell them to go... So I am not sure if I did the right or the wrong thing not asking my advisor before applying to go...

So I know that I now should tell my advisor about the conference. However, I am not sure how I should explain about that fact that I didn't ask before applying ... Is it common for graduate students to let the advisors know before applying for a conference ? Seems like it is a common thing at my institute.

Or should I just back out from the conference? I don't think it is smart if I back out since it will hurt the reputation.

Please give me some insights about this. Thanks a lot.

  • 2
    Something like "Sorry, but I signed up and forgot to tell/ask you about it. Do you think I should actually go?"...?
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 18, 2016 at 20:57
  • 2
    Are you expecting a response other than "Wow! Congratulations!"? Because that would be my response.
    – JeffE
    Mar 18, 2016 at 21:57
  • What conference is this? Is your advisor a co-author? I think the issue here is just if your advisor would be willing to pay for your travel expenses.
    – LCW
    Mar 19, 2016 at 2:07
  • It would be helpful to understand the country / field. In the USA, where I did all of my undergraduate and graduate work , the answer is as JeffE writes "Congratulations!" In Japan, where my wife is doing her work, this is sometimes frowned upon and sometimes greatly frowned upon.
    – virmaior
    Mar 19, 2016 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


Explain it just like you explained in your post.

Tell your advisor that you are very interested in attending a particular conference and that you even applied. You realized it was an oversight that you applied without talking to him first, and then you got sidetracked.

Make it clear that you want to go, that you got accepted, that you made a mistake, and you'd appreciate his feedback on all of it. If your advisor tells you to withdraw, then I would probably listen.

It is not common to do such a thing without discussing it with your advisor, often because they are a co-author and footing the bill.

  • 5
    It might also be a problem if the conference is predatory or has a low ranking and is thus likely to reflect badly on the advisor.
    – user8001
    Mar 18, 2016 at 21:06

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