There is a petition going round at the moment regarding not attending US conferences. It has been signed by many academics. In theory I would like to sign, but doesn't doing so shoot the academic in the foot by not contributing to conferences and therefore their field [in the case that the conference cannot be relocated]?

I include the link below for the interest of others who may want to:


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    – eykanal
    Feb 1, 2017 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


Yes, participating in such a boycott can come at a personal cost. That is true for any boycott; the existence of this cost is what makes the boycott worthwhile in the first place. If there was no cost at signing such a pledge, it would be much less impressive if many people sign.

However, again as with any boycott, as O. R. Mapper says, the marginal cost of participating drops if more academics participate. Indeed, if a very large number of academics participate in a boycott, organisers may relocate or cancel the event, which brings your cost of boycotting, compared to people who chose not to boycott, to zero.

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    @C26 Also, how much it costs you also highly depends on which conferences you typically go to, and what alternative conferences there are and where they stand in relation. For example, if you typically go only to European conferences, or if you typically go to the US but there's a European one of equivalent stature, boycotting US conferences isn't too big of deal. Contrariwise, if the US conferences are the important ones in your field and there is nothing comparable in Europe/Asia/etc., then the boycott might hurt you quite a lot.
    – R.M.
    Jan 30, 2017 at 13:54
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    The cost also depends on where on your career you are. It is relatively higher for young researchers than for people already established in their community.
    – jure
    Jan 30, 2017 at 14:34
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    Is signing the petition binding ? If not you could sign, and if the number of participants for the petition is not high enough, you could still participate in the conference. Jan 31, 2017 at 12:06
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    @HopefullyHelpful I doubt anyone will stop you if you go anyway, but people might ask why you sign a promise and then break it.
    – gerrit
    Jan 31, 2017 at 12:11
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    Well, it's like planning an event, and then canceling because noone signed up to attend. In this case the event would be the boycott of an event. Jan 31, 2017 at 12:12

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