I'm wondering if it is ethical to withdraw an accepted conference paper because the registration fees exceeded my budget?

The fees were only announced after the paper submission deadline thus I didn't know the fees would be so high when I submitted my paper. Now when it got accepted to be presented, I don't think I will be able to attend the conference. I have not submitted the camera-ready paper yet and the registration deadline is in a month. I'm thinking of withdrawing my paper, but would it be ethical to do so? What are the consequences of doing this?

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    What field is this? Did you check if the conference offers travel fellowships? – Bitwise Oct 6 '16 at 9:31
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    wow, you write a paper, spend your time on presenting and still paying money for conference. Academia is indeed a very strange place – Salvador Dali Oct 6 '16 at 23:58
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    @SalvadorDali Wait until you learn about fees for publishing in most open access journals... – user9646 Oct 7 '16 at 8:32

I'll leave a discussion of the ethics of withdrawal to someone else, but the main consequence of withdrawing your paper will be just that: Your paper will be withdrawn. It's unlikely to be something that's held against you.

It may be a slight inconvenience to the organisers, particularly if you were accepted for an oral presentation, to have to find someone to replace you (or to leave a gap in the programme) but part of taking on the role of organising a conference is accepting that these things happen.

You say that you've not submitted the camera-ready paper, so the proceedings will not have been completed. Therefore I'd suggest that there'd be no real damage done if you withdrew.

To summarise. It might be a nuisance for the organisers (one they may well have accepted as par for the course), but there's no real harm been done.

Edit: This isn't in answer to your question, but if the issue with the submission is simply financial then it may be worth contacting the organisers to ask if they know of any financial support that might be available, as well as conducting your own search for funds, before withdrawing.

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    I'd like to add - if the organisers announce the fees after submission deadline then they have only themselves to blame for any inconvenience of withdrawn papers (apart from the unfairness to the submitter who might have considered submitting elsewhere). In any case, it's worth inquiring about financial support. – Captain Emacs Oct 6 '16 at 10:22
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    It seems unethical on their part to announce Registration fees after acceptance. You could have decided otherwise if full information had been announced in the beginning. – Ehsa Oct 6 '16 at 12:33

No, withdrawing a paper in the situation you describe is not unethical.

By not announcing the registration fees in advance of submission, the organizers left you having to make an ill-informed decision about whether or not to submit. It turns out that you made the wrong decision but you couldn't have known that in advance, so it is not your fault.

You should contact the conference organizers. Explain that the registration fees are higher than you expected and ask if there is any financial support available. There often is.

In future, though, if you're considering submitting to a conference where the registration fees haven't been announced before the submission deadline, you should ask the organizers for an estimate of the fees.

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    Note that the fees are not the only relevant factor. For example, if you apply for financial support with the organizers (which they do advertise, obviously just asking for money out of the blue does not count) and you only learn that you will get no or insufficient funding after acceptance of the paper (and, more importantly, after the submission deadline), I see no problem with withdrawal. Just make sure to do it as soon as possible so as to allow them to plan accordingly. – tomasz Oct 6 '16 at 16:52

Organisers usually expect some program changes; in this case they should expect more as they've provided insufficient information for you top make an informed decision. Conference programs often appear first in draft form. The final version often has some sessions finishing earlier than would be expected (this is particularly obvious when there are parallel sessions) as this is better than leaving holes in the program if a session can't be (re-)filled. Organiser and atendees have to accept this. There are plenty of reasons an author may submit with every intention of going, then not be able to go. A major one that's had questions here (or perhaps on travel.se) is that they can't get a visa. A conference I was at recently had a talk cancelled at the last minute when this happened to an invited speaker despite their best efforts.

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