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Conference presentations: deviating from an accepted abstract?

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In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a reader asks:

I recently had a long abstract (1200 words) accepted to a cool workshop in my area of ethics, and the submission of the actual manuscript deadline for commenting/dissemination is nigh. In thinking through the project (I’m a mid-stage grad student), however, I realized I want to reformulate the central insight. In doing so, I think I make the overall story I try to tell more plausible but maybe lose some of the excitement of the result. The paper as currently conceived would differ somewhat from the abstract I submitted but not incredibly so. Still, I don’t want to violate any professional norms or inadvertently and problematically bait-and-switch here.

My paper hasn’t yet been sent to a commentator. Any suggestions on how best to proceed here? Should I write up a paper most faithful to my accepted abstract even if I no longer endorse that way of thinking about the issue? Or should I write the different paper I actually think works?

These are good questions. We’ve discussed before whether it is okay to change your paper after your commentator writes up comments. However, we haven’t ever discussed whether it’s okay to merely deviate somewhat from the content of an accepted abstract. So, I’m curious what everyone thinks here. Given that the OP is describing a workshop, and the whole point of a workshop is to share and develop one’s work, I guess I don’t see anything wrong with some deviation here–though I suppose that if one deviated so far from the abstract that it’s an entirely different paper, the workshop organizers could potentially get upset. What do you all think?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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