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BACKGROUND

I was previously an engineering PhD student but I left the program. I was really too inexperienced for the commitment of a PhD. Further, my wife wanted me to leave and pursue an engineering job with a salary.

A while back I submitted an abstract to a relatively prestigious conference/forum, where the corresponding paper was suppose to be submitted 3 months after this acceptance. Since I was leaving the program, I basically neglected this responsibility while applying for jobs throughout the semester. However, my adviser expressed anger on this saying I must submit the paper because they already accepted the abstract and I could be barred from the forum in the future. Thus I submitted a paper.

As of now I've left the PhD program. However, there is a conference/forum for this paper in the upcoming week, and there is a speaking slot for my paper. I know that my advisor (the paper's only other author) is busy and overseas and will not attend. This means nobody plans to attend the conference for the paper. Thus, I feel I must attend the conference. However, I really don't have the funds and time, and cannot easily attend. I checked the schedule, and there is a speaking slot for my paper.

QUESTIONS

What are the consequences for not attending an academic conference (for your accepted paper) in which you are slotted to speak? I would assume not attending (complete absence) is common due to money and air travel problems (connecting flights, weather, etc). Would one be barred from future conferences for not attending? Is it impolite to not attend (I've already successfully submitted the paper)?

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    Not attending to conferences with an accepted paper is not common, at least one tries to find a substitute speaker among the colleagues who are attending. But if this is not viable for you, write now to the organizers to explain that no one will be able to present. – Massimo Ortolano May 15 '16 at 21:50
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    @MassimoOrtolano I have seen it happen many times. – Anonymous Physicist May 15 '16 at 21:59
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    @AnonymousPhysicist In my field is quite uncommon not finding a substitute and not communicating the absence to the organizers. – Massimo Ortolano May 15 '16 at 22:05
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    Could you please explain or clarify - was there no earlier conversation (when the abstract was submitted) on where funds would come from if you or some other co-author presented ? (that is, would there have been funds available if you were still were in the group?). It is embarrassing for all co-authors if a speaker does not show up (and the organizers were not otherwise informed so that there is no addendum noting it in schedule book), so I am confused why your advisor is also not helping figure out who will present in your absence. – Carol May 16 '16 at 0:07
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It is unlikely there would be any consequences for failing to present at a conference. It would be impolite and disappoint your former adviser. You should notify the conference if you decide not to attend.

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    I agree. Withdrawing from a conference due to issues with travel funding or conflicting commitments is quite common, and will not result in any adverse consequences (aside from the paper not being published) as long as you notify them as early as possible. Ideally, this should have been done before the speaking schedule was determined, but late changes are possible. Just not showing up without warning is rude and will inconvenience people, though. – Significance May 15 '16 at 23:39
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The consequences for not attending a conference to present your paper will depend on the conference.

The best thing to do now is contact the conference organizers and explain your situation and ask what the consequences are for not showing up. Also, ask if the conference allows for a non-author to present in your absence. If they do, maybe you can find someone that can present on your behalf.

Since you are in an engineering discipline, I can say that the IEEE conferences I'm familiar with have a clear policy on handling cases where nobody shows up to present the paper. A quick scan of some IEEE conference pages yields the commonly-found disclaimer:

Failure to present the paper at the workshop will result in the withdrawal of the paper from the Proceedings.

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