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In the faculty that I am currently working on we have contacted a Professor who would be giving a workshop in my city. Because of that we have invited him for a meeting for discussing collaboration issues for making research in his area of expertise. Also he would be willing to give a lecture to the lecturers of our faculty about the current trends in his research area.

The question that I have is how to know if this lecturer will charge us for the lecture? It is in the field of Computer Science. If this is the case we need to make the necessary administrative paperwork to cover this expenses (my place of work is very bureaucratic by the way). This lecturer has not mentioned anything about charges so how we ask him nicely if he would charge anything for this meeting and lecture? also what would be the necessary arrangements that we should do in this case?

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    If there are any expenses then he is the person who responsible for informing you about. Since he did not mention anything about it then it's free. But you can write a direct email asking him if there will be any expenses! Don't be shy :) – Krebto Mar 2 '17 at 13:53
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The usual way is to state explicitly in your invitation which costs you are going to cover. For example:

Dear Professor X

I would hereby like to formally invite you to give a seminar talk at our university on a topic of your choice. We will of course provide you with a hotel for your stay as well as cover your airfare and all other reasonable travel expenses.

Sincerely, Y

This way, it is clear to everyone what exactly you intend to pay for. If Professor X wants anything else, he will have to ask for it explicitly, and you can then choose whether you think that you want to pay for that as well or not, but at least you put out there what you expect to pay for.

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By lecture, do you mean a "talk"? I assume that would last below one hour?

I never have heard of a Professor charging for an invited talk. Especially, if you did not talk about it first. He might need a bus/taxi to get to the university. Therefore you might tell him to keep the tickets, and refund these.

If your university covers this, you might also invite him to lunch / dinner before or after the talk. This would also give further possibility for collaboration.

And if the talk is up to / over two hours, having a bottle of wine or two as a gift that you publicly give him right after the talk, might be appropriate, depending on the size of the audience.

Maybe ask administrative staff whether there is a budget for any of this? At my university we had a budget for all small expenses, where this would have fit in well.

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    "Bottle of wine" -- not in most public universities in the United States :-) – Wolfgang Bangerth Mar 3 '17 at 5:07
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    If it is the US, a good Coors Light might be a nice touch at the half way point. Especially if it is a two hour talk. – Vladhagen Mar 3 '17 at 6:49
  • @Vladhagen -- well, that's alcohol, too, and the Americans have a rather difficult relationship with alcohol and public institutions. Also: really, Coors Light? Only if you're employed by the Colorado School of Mines :-) – Wolfgang Bangerth Mar 3 '17 at 19:27
  • True, Fort Collins is more of a micro brewery town in my opinion. – Vladhagen Mar 3 '17 at 20:03
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Usually professors don't charge for lectures to other universities, at least I have not heard of such case. They may charge for lectures to commercial entities, but no, not to universities. The invitation to professor to present lecture at other university is a sign of appreciation/honor.

However, the good speakers are in high demand, so if you are not attractive destination for the speaker to come (e.g. low grade university inviting someone from well established university) the speaker will probably kindly decline due to lack of time. You have to understand - they get a lot of these invitations and will be selective where to go. But I am certain they will not demand payment.

Having said that, the usual arrangement for someone's invited lecture is the offer of covering the cost. Well known, respected and/or older professors may request perks, such as 1.st class airplane tickets (which may be more than you ever expected to pay :). I have heard for case, where professor replied "I will come, but I want 1.st class tickets", and the reply was "We apologize, but this is beyond our budget, so we thank you for your kind offer, but we cannot accept it."

Now, it depends on how eager the person in question is to travel. If you invite someone to EU from US, and offer them 2 days hotel costs + airplane ticket at an attractive location, many professors will grab the opportunity to free visit to Europe.

In some cases, the speakers will cover their costs by themselves, either because they have some kind of grants for exact this purpose (spreading the knowledge, etc), or if they are young, not very recognized in the field, and are eager to get invited talk on their CV.

Sometimes it pays off to invite the professor who is in town for some other event (e.g. conference, business meeting), then perhaps you can get away with only a bottle of wine and/or polite "thank you", but you also risk that he will not be available, since he has other work to do during his stay.

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I understand you might be uncomfortable asking, "Will you do it for free?"

But if you can't really afford to pay him, tell him that: "I hope you can visit our institute and give a talk about your work while you're in town. I'm afraid our budget is extremely limited and doesn't extend to paying honoraria. But there's a high level of interest here in (name of field)."

If you can afford to pay, ask him how much you should set aside: "If you can spare the time to come to our institute to give a talk about your work, we would be thrilled to have you for a visit. Would date 1 or date 2 suit? If you are interested, could you give me an idea what an appropriate honorarium would be? This is my first time organizing a workshop of this type."

I don't think you should talk about travel expenses since he's going to be in your town anyway.

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