Comments on: Academic conference etiquette: do we haz it? History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 07:56:15 +0000 hourly 1 By: Late PhD bloomer Sat, 15 Oct 2011 13:20:35 +0000 How interesting! While we’re on the subject of conference etiquette, I was wondering whether there is a lead time in terms of declining to attend a Conference after they give you a favorable acceptance letter based on the abstract you submitted? Or is this NOT an option at all and considered academic suicide?

I’m new in this area and so far there seems to be little talk about the “unspoken rules” of declining for something you’ve applied for.

By: MLO Thu, 01 Sep 2011 02:42:13 +0000 I have been at this for a while, and have not noticed any significant deterioration in conference etiquette. I think that all of the problems identified in the original post can be eliminated if the chair is willing to take the job seriously and if he or she is willing to step on a few toes.

By: Another Damned Medievalists Wed, 31 Aug 2011 03:04:46 +0000 I made up signs this year. Didn’t work in one case, but all the others were fine. For me, the worst sin is going over AFTER the moderator has signaled time is over. Then going over at all.

But then, I rehearse and I know I have just about 3000 words, period.

As for the other things? All of my papers were late this year. I finished a paper at 7:00 the night before I gave it, rehearsed it from 1:00 to 2:00 am for an 11:am session, knowing I was moderating at 9:00. Gave it, it was rehearsed and on time. I hated it, because I was stressed for the entire conference. But a long as it ends up solid, it isn’t anybody’s problem but mine. Why should anyone care when it’s finished, as long as it’s decent?

On the other hand, I got a different paper to a commenter pretty late, and only managed to get her a draft. THAT I feel bad about, because it adds to someone else’s stress, and that’s not fair.

For me, every other thing that people have mentioned is not a problem if it’s not something that happens consistently. And as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else, then I don’t get upset.

Unless people go over time. That is always a problem.

By: Maureen Ogle Sat, 27 Aug 2011 18:05:13 +0000 I’m an escapee from academia (historian), but am jumping in to say (as others have): There’s nothing new about rude behavior at conferences. Indeed, I’d argue it’s the rule rather than the exception.

I’m obsessively organized (hey! raised Catholic!), so I ALWAYS got my papers to the commentator by the deadline, but it was clear that others on panels I was on simply didn’t bother.

The one time I was asked to serve as a commentator, there were three presenters. Only one sent me a paper in advance, and then the paper he read was completely different than the one he sent me. So when it was time to give my comments, I simply told the audience I’d just heard the papers for the first time, and opened up the session to audience questions (which, as someone noted above, is always the most interesting part of any session).

So, as all historians know, there really ain’t nuthin’ new under the sun.

By: undine Sat, 27 Aug 2011 04:07:10 +0000 In earlier posts, I’ve jokingly suggested a hook to yank those who talk too long off stage, but these stories of rude presenters are a revelation. Like Leslie and Historiann, I always rehearse my talks both for time and for finding the places I want to emphasize.

By: Susan Sat, 27 Aug 2011 00:10:27 +0000 Another thing that is going on is that the pressure to be part of conferences means that lots of people submit to too many: then they are either prepared late, or cancel at the last minute. Anyone who has served as a program chair can tell you that — at least in history — you’ll get a whole bunch of people who discover two weeks before the conference that they can’t get travel money, or can’t come, or whatever. (There are also the genuine emergencies — illnesses or deaths in the family, etc. — but a lot of it could easily have been anticipated.

When I chair I do keep people to time, and give them a two minute warning. My worst experience was a senior person, in a set up where I had to walk across about 20 feet of a stage to give time warnings. I think she wanted to give a 45 minute paper in a 25 minute slot — I kept her to under 35 minutes but she was really recalcitrant.

As commentator, I have indeed received papers the night before. I do not struggle to write a profound comment. I often wait until late to write my comment, but I always do it before the conference starts.

By: Historiann Fri, 26 Aug 2011 22:20:19 +0000 Hee-hee. Perhaps he learned something? (The commenter certainly did.)

Perhaps this whole clash of etiquette is the fact that most panels (not to mention audiences) are composed of both no-one-writes/reads-these-till-the-night-before people as well as the that’s-not-how-I-operate people. If only the half-assed/night before people would just stick to their own kind and run their own conferences!

By: ga Fri, 26 Aug 2011 20:46:19 +0000 Kind of late but I cannot resist adding the worst I’ve ever seen—the presenter was informed by the commentator of our panel that he would not offer comments on the paper because he only got it the day before. But, he said he’d tell the audience that because of circumstances beyond the presenter’s control, it didn’t arrive in time for a fair reading.”

The presenter, newly degreed, was miffed and said: “I don’t think that is fair. Seriously, no one reads these until the night before anyway!” The commentator (a *giant* in his field) very kindly said: “Well, that is not how I operate …” and the presenter then proceeded to argue about that with much of the front rows of the room’s audience in place.

The commentator said bland, nothing things (damning with faint praise) about a spectacularly disorganized presentation—then those front rows of the audience got him. It was not pretty, but it was well-deserved.

By: Contingent Cassandra Fri, 26 Aug 2011 17:59:55 +0000 Obviously, there’s no excuse for running over (and not practicing, and following standard advice — even if one has to search it out oneself — for not running over, and otherwise presenting well). And some people (the same ones who don’t bother to practice, or don’t think it matters if their practice reveals that the talk takes 35 minutes to deliver, when they’ve been allotted 15-20) will always ignore yellow and red cards, passed notes, and probably also any sound not loud enough to absolutely drown them out (I like the clapping idea). I do wonder whether some chairs’ difficult in enforcing the rules stems from the way that panels are often put together by conference organizers, with the assignment of chairs often an afterthought (and many drawn from relatively junior attendees). It would be interesting to note whether running-over and other problems are most prevalent on panels assembled by conference committees, those assembled in response to a CFP by the panel chair, or those assembled collaboratively by scholars who already know each others’ work. My guess is that the latter kind of panel has the least problems, and the first the worst — and that perhaps, as academia in general gets larger, and conferences more numerous, more panels are being assembled in more-anonymous ways — which is probably good for giving lesser-known scholars a chance, but perhaps results in worse behavior among people who may never have met each other before, and may not meet each other again.

By: Janice Fri, 26 Aug 2011 17:20:38 +0000 One of the mandatory elements of our graduate students’ directed reading classes is to help them prepare and present a department seminar. It’s helpful even for the vast majority of our M.A. students who don’t go further in academia to learn how to prepare and present in a semi-public venue.