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Inquiring About a Submission

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I submitted a piece for a paper contest/conference and was told upon submission that entrants would be notified by mid- to late July regarding the decision. When would be an acceptable time to inquire about this decision? The conference is in a month-and-a-half, and I don't want to wait too long on the outside chance my paper was actually selected (travel plans and scheduling become factors as the conference date approaches). However, I also don't want to appear pushy. Any tips, or has anybody had a similar scenario?

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Enough time has elapsed from the the expected notification date. You can legitimately email the conference organizers at this point and inquire about your submission. It won't be considered pushy at this point. Before you do that, though, does the conference have a website? If so, check and see if there is a program online or if they have an update about a possible notification date. Sometimes they will run late and other times somehow some rejected submissions might not hear back from organizers as quickly as accepted ones. If there is a program online and you're not on it, you know what that means.

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You have waited a lot longer than I would have!

Like fuzzy said, I would check their website as they might have changed the announcment date. It's not uncommon for dates to be pushed back.

Goodluck! Hope it works out for you :)

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Thank you both for the advice! I would up sending the organizer an email to see what was going on, and I was told that it would take another week to finish evaluating the papers. However, that was three weeks ago, and there has still been no announcement made on the website and no email sent with a decision. I'm not sure I can email again without coming across as too much of a pain, but now the conference is fast approaching. Any more advice?

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The conference is a month away at this point, right? I'm assuming that you will only be able to attend if your paper is selected? Or do the organizers expect everyone to attend, but only the selected papers will present?

I'd say that while the almost 2 month delay from their original posted notification date is unusual, it's not that weird to have to wait until ~1 month before a conference starts to find out if you are presenting, especially if it's a small meeting. For a meeting with ~200 attendees, the abstract submission deadline was ~6 weeks before the conference date, and the selection was made ~4 weeks prior. In another meeting of ~60 attendees, we submitted abstracts ~5 weeks before and found out ~3 weeks prior. Both of these were national conferences too. But all these dates/deadlines were published ahead of time and the organizers stuck to them!

Maybe this conference has a reputation for being very delayed! I've been on the organizing side of a meeting before and everyone is working as a volunteer, so sometimes delays happen. However, I'm not excusing their extreme tardiness. I think if they had put a deadline up, then they should stick to it (or update people if it changes), so I'd be annoyed and frustrated and worried etc. too.

My advice depends on who is paying for this conference:

If you are not the one paying, then I talk to whoever is paying (supervisor?) and let them know what's going on. They would be the ones paying more if you miss out on the best pricing for travel arrangements, hotels, etc., you are not the one eating the costs. But if it's a good opportunity for you, the supervisor probably would okay with it since it's clearly a situation out of your control. Since they are the one paying though, you should keep them in the loop!

If you are paying your own way (including making use of travel grants) then I think you should decide on a date as a "point of no return" (i.e. you won't be attending if you don't hear from them by this date) and send one last email to the organizer then. Typically, ticket prices are still decent up to 2 weeks before date of travel. I'd prefer to book at least 3 weeks in advance though. So pick a date that you feel safe with and send one last email saying something like "look, I have to make travel arrangements now, is there any update?" Hopefully you will get a response either way. I'd say wait until the date of no return because you don't run any risk of "annoying" the organizer and getting rejected, since if you don't hear from them by this date, you would not go anyways.

Also keep in mind that there could be other conference opportunities to present your work too, if it takes too long and prices go too high, it might be a better use of your funds/supervisor funds for a different travel/presentation opportunity!

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