Submitting and Presenting the Same Paper for Multiple Conferences
Multiple submissions of the same paper to several conferences and/or journals may seem like a good idea to boost your academic reputation and presence. However, this is generally regarded as bad practice and not altogether ethical. This article outlines some key points to consider if you are thinking of submitting the same paper to multiple places.
Multiple submissions and self-plagiarism
It is considered self-plagiarism if you include chunks of previously published research in current research without clearly citing yourself and your work. In the same way, delivering exactly the same paper and content at several conferences, without clearly indicating where, when and why you have previously presented this material, can also be considered self-plagiarism. It is generally considered unethical practice to present research that has already been shared at another conference, platform or event as if it is a new piece of work.
Funders, institutions and employers are unlikely to be impressed by a long list of conference papers when they realise that you have actually just delivered exactly the same research multiple times. Such activity can be seen as deceptive, dishonest and a sneaky tactic to falsely enhance your academic accomplishments and accolades.
How to present at multiple conferences
If you do still want to submit your work for consideration and to present at multiple conferences then you need to think about how to write significantly different papers for each of them. It is possible to include similar issues, datasets or findings, but each paper should have a markedly distinct main focus while at the same time responding clearly and directly to the theme of each conference.
So for example, your research might comprise interviews with young people about their use of social media. You could present one paper about youth perspectives and use of Instagram at a conference on image-led social media. In a symposium on digital technologies and mental health, you could use the same dataset and present another paper about the impact of social media on rising levels of anxiety in young people. In other words, you are working from the same data but offering two different papers, each with original findings or distinct arguments.
Update your research and be honest
Sometimes it may be necessary and relevant to include the same content, findings or data from a previous paper in another paper for a separate conference. This might happen if you have made significant amendments to your research design, the research has evolved to encompass other directions or themes, the findings now significantly influence or differ from what you previously discussed, or there are new developments and updates in your research.
In these situations, it can be acceptable to re-present your research but you must explain clearly at the beginning of your presentation what you have previously presented and where. This serves the double function of contextualising your current paper while also acknowledging your previous work openly and honestly.
When it is acceptable to deliver the same paper or findings
Sometimes renowned academics may be invited by conference organisers or research institutions to present a talk. In these cases, it is not uncommon for the speaker to present a paper or some work that they may have previously delivered elsewhere. This is generally acceptable as audiences understand a keynote or invited speaker will usually talk about some area of their research that they are already well known for.
However, even in these instances, speakers will usually declare at the beginning of their talk if they have presented this paper before and/or highlight any amendments or developments that have been made since they last presented.
Help or harm your reputation?
If you are thinking of resubmitting the same paper to multiple conferences, pause to consider what you hope to gain from doing this. If you want to boost your academic CV and profile, understand that recycling content can actually do you more harm than good.
You risk developing a reputation for being dishonest and deceptive, or for sloppily reproducing old content instead of producing original, thoughtful research. You don’t want your peers to stop taking your presentations seriously because you have become known for always delivering the same old thing.
Presenting papers at conferences is an excellent way to share novel findings from your research and connect with others who would be interested and impressed by your work. Make the most of these opportunities by investing the time and effort into producing original papers that will be worthy of your audience’s attention and respect. This will do much more for your academic reputation and profile than a long list of conferences where you’ve simply churned out the same content.
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