What are the ethical norms and expectations in academic publishing? Is presenting the same research twice at different conferences a common practice? We will share our insights in this article.
Even if the right answer may seem obvious, to present your own paper/lecture more times, in different places and for different conferences, is a form of self-plagiarism. And even if plagiarism carries awful connotations, self-plagiarism is not officially considered to be research misconduct. So in theory, it is possible and not punishable to present your own paper unaltered on more than one occasion at different conferences.
Feedback makes perfect, but…
Recycling a paper for a conference and the presentation might even have its own benefits.
Gaining valuable feedback is an advantage of every conference presentation but getting differentiated feedback on your work from different audiences in a different context might be truly worth a repetition. Think about it in a looser sense as an opportunity for more peer- or community review of your paper.
If you think about it, any progress is more likely to happen based on constructive feedback. Granted, most of this should have ideally taken place at earlier stages in paper writing, such as Abstract Submission, or Community Review, Mentor Consultations, Peer Review, but given the time it takes to write a good paper and weighing its relevancy with respect to the audience, this is still acceptable.
It’s all about the context
In the end, it all very much depends on the context of the presentation. If the conference is of high importance and repute and focusing on the newest research idea, presenting “old news” may not necessarily be the best idea. Smaller, local, or more informal conferences could offer the right venue for dated content and the topic you have already presented previously. So just a few tweaks may be all that is needed and a local conference with its specific set of participants might benefit from your presentation. The rule of thumb here might be “if they haven’t heard it, it’s all new to them”.
The context, therefore, determines the acceptability of a ‘recycled’ paper. It goes without saying that if a conference calls for original, not-yet-published work, then presenting exactly the same paper/poster twice without full disclosure would simply be wrong – even punishable. In internationally- recognized conferences, such as IEEE, ACT, EAI, self-plagiarizing is not an acceptable practice and will likely get flagged. What’s more, originality of papers (free of plagiarism and self-plagiarism) is even a stated requirement for the publication of papers and conference proceedings in cooperation with scientific publishing houses, such as Springer or Elsevier.
Self-policing wins the day
If unsure, you, as the submitting author, you should first talk to the conference organizers about whether your paper is OK to be presented there, given that it has already been presented in some other form elsewhere.
Transparency and mindfulness of the organizations’ as well as the readers’ expectations will help you get where you want without risking breaching any ethical codes.
After all, with each paper submission, you are mainly putting your own academic reputation on the line.