conference paper: how different can it be from the abstract?


hi there..

I might have a little problem. I've been accepted to talk at a conference this summer, which I'm quite happy about. However, due to some problems with my data set that appeared only after I had submitted the abstract and after the submission deadline, it seems that I won't be able to do exactly what I said I will do in the abstract. The topic would still be roughly the same, but the method and the dependent variable have changed. I wonder how big of a problem that is...? Would it be a good idea to contact the session organiser about this, or is this a common thing that doesn't need extra mentioning..? What do you think?

thanks for your thoughts.


======= Date Modified 07 Apr 2011 14:53:42 =======
Hey Apple

I don't think it's a big problem, particularly when it sounds like the bones of your talk will be the same. Lots of people's abstracts are different from what they ultimately present. I would flag it at the start of your talk but wouldn't labour the point. Personally I wouldn't contact the session organiser - you don't want to be considered a potential problem. You could however verbally let that person know at the start of the session - when it's too late for them to do anything about it ;-). They would then most likely mention it when they are introducing you. I've seen it happen loads of times.


Hi Apple! I wouldn't worry about it too much- conferences often demand abstracts more than 6 months before the conference itself and I think a lot of people blag it on their abstracts a bit before they've even begun to think properly about the presentation or analyse the data completely. As long as the vague gist of it is still somewhat resembling your original abstract I don't think it's a problem. I have been to plenty of conferences where the presentations depart a bit from the abstracts and I think this is only natural- people are trying to present up to date research and it's a tough job to predict in an abstract exactly how the data will pan out 6 months down the line. Good luck with your presentation! KB


As the others said, don't worry about it. I've been to conferences where the topic of the talk was changed completely, at one occasion so much that it didn't even fit in with the conference theme. No one minded and there was quite a lively discussion after the presentation.


thank you all for your comments, i'm feeling quite a bit reassured now!