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Paper accepted for conference but travel fund denied by department :(


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I was wondering if someone faced similar situations. My paper is accepted for conference but department have denied travel fund/grant.  I have student loan money but not any other source of income. The total cost will be more than $ 1500. 

I don't have any primary publications. I am lead author for the paper...The paper is not related to my interest..It was a term paper for a course in masters program and it is very surprising for me that it is accepted...

What people usually do in these situations...

 

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You can seek funding from the school or your graduate student organization. My school provides up to $500 for cases like this. This won't cover all of the expenses but it can help.

In my field, volunteering at the conference will also often help offset the costs. They might waive registration fees for volunteers. This can be worth $200-$300! The conference may also provide travel grants.

However, depending on your field, this conference might not just be worth it. Is there a reason why your department denied the funding?

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Is it international? $1500 seems high even if you had to go to Europe. I can guarantee there is a way to bring those costs down.

Also, department is not the only source of conference funding. As TakeruK pointed out, graduate student organization or graduate school provide some. Also, look at various interdisciplinary research centers at your university, they often provide some.

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4 hours ago, Comparativist said:

Is it international? $1500 seems high even if you had to go to Europe. I can guarantee there is a way to bring those costs down.

Also, department is not the only source of conference funding. As TakeruK pointed out, graduate student organization or graduate school provide some. Also, look at various interdisciplinary research centers at your university, they often provide some.

I was going to comment on the cost too, but $1500 isn't that high even for some longer US/Canada conferences. I didn't want to push on the price point too much at this point, although one potential worry would be that this is one of those "scam"/"fake" conferences that accept every single paper, charge high fees and provide either no conference or a very crappy one with the intent of taking your money. 

I've been to lots of conferences in North America and the US, and here's how my costs generally break down (to help you decide if this is a reasonable price for this meeting). All travel is from the US:

"Domestic" conferences (in the US) (assuming 5 days, typical for my field):
Student Registration: $200
Round-trip airfare, $200-$500 (depending on distance of course)
Ground transportation (to/from hotel and airport): $100
Hotel for 5 nights: ~$500 (shared) to $900 (not shared); I share whenever possible but sometimes I can't
Food for 5 days: $300
Total: $1300 to $2000 for North American meetings

International conferences (these numbers are for Europe):
Registration: $400
Round-trip airfare: $1500-$2000
Ground transportation: $100
Hotel for 5 nights: $600 to $1000
Food for 5 days: $400
Total: $3000 to $4000 for European meetings
 

So if you mean $1500 for registration and fees, then that's really high. But $1500 total cost is reasonable. Except for flights to Europe, the majority of the cost is paying for a place to stay and for food, so the length of the conference is a bigger factor in cost than distance. Sometimes I am lucky and manage to do a nearby short conference for less than $1000.

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Well, I mean...depends what you qualify as 'reasonable.' Because there are ways to significantly reduce your estimates:

Food: $60 per day is pretty excessive. Eating two meals at low-end or mid priced restaurants should only run you about $30 a day. Even then, there are definitely ways to cut this down (buy some things from the grocery store to have a continental breakfast for $5 for example). There's always ways to score free food at conferences as well.

Lodging: In any major city, you should be able to airbnb for under $50 a night at a reasonable distance from the conference.

Ground transportation: virtually every major airport has public transportation options, which shouldn't run you more than $5-10 both ways. 

Those things are going to cut your costs down dramatically. For example, I was able to do 5 nights in New York City at a conference last spring for $600. I only received $400 in funding, but $200 isn't much to offset personally.

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3 hours ago, TakeruK said:


Hotel for 5 nights: ~$500 (shared) to $900 (not shared); I share whenever possible but sometimes I can't
Food for 5 days: $300

This can be decreased.

Hotel: stay in a hostel. Or contact graduate organizations in the area because sometimes students host other students. Some professional organizations also have host pairing and help you find people from the area attending the conference that can let you stay in their guest rooms. 

Food $60 per day? My school gives $25/day, I always aim for that. One night is graduate reception/conference reception and if you can mingle in other events, then you can bring your costs down. 

For flights, check statravel. They have good discounts for students. 

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2 hours ago, AP said:

This can be decreased.

Hotel: stay in a hostel. Or contact graduate organizations in the area because sometimes students host other students. Some professional organizations also have host pairing and help you find people from the area attending the conference that can let you stay in their guest rooms. 

Food $60 per day? My school gives $25/day, I always aim for that. One night is graduate reception/conference reception and if you can mingle in other events, then you can bring your costs down. 

For flights, check statravel. They have good discounts for students. 

Yes, I agree it's possible to decrease these numbers, but I don't think students should feel pressured to do so. I consider conference to be work travel so there are standards on what an advisor can ask a student to "endure". But this could be a field-dependent thing because my research doesn't cost a ton of money. My total research expenses is probably only around $10,000 per year (usually 2-3 conferences per year, one in Europe every other year, and page charges for journal articles). I don't have chemicals or animals or other expensive lab stuff to order. 

My advisor has always been very good about spending money so that us students are comfortable during travel because we have to do this for work. My advisor gives the government per diem rate, which ranges from $47/day to $100+/day depending on location. I always shoot for around $50-$60 per day (unless I'm in at a place with a smaller per diem) and I keep my receipts so that I don't get reimbursed for more than I spend (if I don't say anything, I would get the full per diem which would be way too much). I don't splurge when I eat but I always try to eat healthy. i.e. I don't think I should compromise my health by eating McDonalds all the time or filling up on reception food, which is generally greasy and fried and contain little vegetables. Also, the whole point of conferences is to network and eat with your colleagues and sometimes if I am joining professors for dinner, they tend to pick something a little more pricey.

As for sharing rooms, my advisor's policy is that we should not be required to share rooms because everyone has different needs. We basically have a chat about conference travel for the upcoming year each fall and it's up to us if we want to spend more and go to fewer conferences or spend less and go to more. The only times I had my own room was when I was the only person I knew who was going (and willing to share with) or at some European places, the charge is per person instead of per room. Also, I try to stay at the conference hotel when possible to make it easier to attend networking events after the sessions and to reduce the commute time each morning/evening (after all, I'm still "working" and I feel like my time does have value...saving $20/night but adding another hour to get to/from the convention center might not be worth it).

That said, I completely agree with you that your tips are great for someone who is comfortable doing them and if they feel that the specific conference is worth it. Sometimes funding is just tight and you need to make some sacrifices for your own good. But just like I feel like my research time is worth money and I wouldn't do research work for no/low pay, I also wouldn't do conference travel without proper compensation. I definitely get a lot of benefits from presenting at a conference, but so does my advisor/school, so I feel like it's fair to ask them to pay for reasonable expenses.

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6 hours ago, TakeruK said:

I didn't want to push on the price point too much at this point, although one potential worry would be that this is one of those "scam"/"fake" conferences that accept every single paper, charge high fees and provide either no conference or a very crappy one with the intent of taking your money. 

Your comment seriously makes me think why they accepted the paper. My paper had lot of typos, grammatical errors..lol. To be honest I never submitted/presented any paper for conference. My field  (biostatistics) is very specialized, whenever we have any biostatistics conference there are not more than 1000 attendees.

The conference (established in early 1900's) is not a scam but crappy..umm may be. Their website is not updated on times and there also lot of typos. I think they have very few people at administrative level.

Conference is in Europe and the cheapest flight I can find is just above $1000. there is also 400 hotel accommodation fee then 100 registration fee so it is almost 1500.

In my university, there is a student association that covers $ 500. But I don't think it will make any difference in $ 1500.

I don't think conference is worth...

 

Edited by Anka
typo
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20 hours ago, Comparativist said:

Well, I mean...depends what you qualify as 'reasonable.' Because there are ways to significantly reduce your estimates:

 

17 hours ago, AP said:

This can be decreased.

MOO, cutting expenses should not be a priority if you're going to be in a professional setting. If you're focused on foraging for food / finding the best deal on a ride to a location, you're using bandwidth that might be needed elsewhere.The impressions you make are going to be centered around your expertise and comportment, not the deal you made finding a room.

I recommend making reasonable trade offs but prioritize putting yourself in a position where you can get the most out of the experience--and that includes enjoying it.

$0.02.

 

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17 hours ago, Anka said:

Your comment seriously makes me think why they accepted the paper. My paper had lot of typos, grammatical errors..lol. To be honest I never submitted/presented any paper for conference. My field  (biostatistics) is very specialized, whenever we have any biostatistics conference there are not more than 1000 attendees.

The conference (established in early 1900's) is not a scam but crappy..umm may be. Their website is not updated on times and there also lot of typos. I think they have very few people at administrative level.

Conference is in Europe and the cheapest flight I can find is just above $1000. there is also 400 hotel accommodation fee then 100 registration fee so it is almost 1500.

In my university, there is a student association that covers $ 500. But I don't think it will make any difference in $ 1500.

I don't think conference is worth...

 

Okay so they aren't really charging excessive fees and it sounds like they are a real conference! :) 

Another metric I use to assess whether a conference is worth going to is to see who else is going. Many conference websites will show the list of registered participants. In your case, if they have already started to accept papers, they will also list who else they accepted. If this is not available (yet), perhaps see who the invited/keynote speakers are. Take a look and see if:

1) You find lots of people who are working on the same things that you are interested in. This will indicate that your work will fit in well with the community there and you will have a chance to make an impression on your current and future colleagues and that you will also be able to learn something interesting from them.

2) You see the leaders in your subfield represented. Again, the point of a conference is to directly meet and interact with your colleagues and others in your field. Make sure that there are some people you would be interested in meeting after having read their papers or books for some time. Note that scam conferences will sometimes list famous professors on their website even though these professors might not have even heard of the scam conference!! So be careful of that.

With what you wrote here and what you wrote earlier (that this paper is not in your main field of interest), it doesn't sound like it's worth the trip. What would you gain from this experience? Better to save your own money and your ability to win travel grants (sometimes they favour new applicants over previous winners) for a conference that will provide more benefit.

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On 3/14/2017 at 8:25 PM, Anka said:

What people usually do in these situations...

 

On 3/15/2017 at 11:19 PM, TakeruK said:

My total research expenses is probably only around $10,000 per year (usually 2-3 conferences per year, one in Europe every other year, and page charges for journal articles). I don't have chemicals or animals or other expensive lab stuff to order. 

My advisor has always been very good about spending money so that us students are comfortable during travel because we have to do this for work. My advisor gives the government per diem rate, which ranges from $47/day to $100+/day depending on location. I always shoot for around $50-$60 per day (unless I'm in at a place with a smaller per diem) and I keep my receipts so that I don't get reimbursed for more than I spend (if I don't say anything, I would get the full per diem which would be way too much). I don't splurge when I eat but I always try to eat healthy. i.e. I don't think I should compromise my health by eating McDonalds all the time or filling up on reception food, which is generally greasy and fried and contain little vegetables. Also, the whole point of conferences is to network and eat with your colleagues and sometimes if I am joining professors for dinner, they tend to pick something a little more pricey.

 

19 hours ago, Sigaba said:

MOO, cutting expenses should not be a priority if you're going to be in a professional setting. If you're focused on foraging for food / finding the best deal on a ride to a location, you're using bandwidth that might be needed elsewhere.The impressions you make are going to be centered around your expertise and comportment, not the deal you made finding a room.

@TakeruK, @Sigaba, you know very well I'm very respectful of your opinions, and generally agree with you. In this case, I agree that we need to look good, sleep well, that it is a professional setting, we need to be presentable. But @Anka asked what to do if you don't have much elbow room to have your own room in a conference hotel. There are cost that we can manage, like hotels, there are costs that we can't, like conference registration. My post aimed at those we can. 

[As an anecdote, in a frugal moment, I once stayed in a low-cost hotel for a national conference. There was another scholar staying in the same hotel so we went to the conference together. In these commutes, we got to talk and she invited me months later to an all-paid five star hotel conference on the other side of the world. I'm not saying this would happen if you are savvy with conference costs, but it was a nice turnaround!] 

I agree that this is the ultimate response: 

On 3/15/2017 at 11:19 PM, TakeruK said:

That said, I completely agree with you that your tips are great for someone who is comfortable doing them and if they feel that the specific conference is worth it. Sometimes funding is just tight and you need to make some sacrifices for your own good. But just like I feel like my research time is worth money and I wouldn't do research work for no/low pay, I also wouldn't do conference travel without proper compensation. I definitely get a lot of benefits from presenting at a conference, but so does my advisor/school, so I feel like it's fair to ask them to pay for reasonable expenses.

 

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@AP: Yes, I definitely agree with you. I felt like I had answered the original question in my very first response (e.g. seek grad student association help, conference organizers etc.) I only posted the longer response based on other comments that $1500 seemed high for a conference and I wanted to show that $1500 is typical (at least in my experience) for a 5-day meeting on the other side of the country, and if it's in Europe, much more is common.

As for my last paragraph, yes that was to bring it back to the original topic. And, for the record, when I was an undergraduate, there were a couple of conferences that I attended in this way. In Canada, there is a national conference for undergrads run by undergrads and they get good sponsorship from companies and universities so that they can offer good hotel rates. Most student presenters aren't "sent" by their advisors because we are generally presenting on last summer's research project or a class project and these profs don't generally send their summer undergrad students to conferences. However, it's still a good (and fun) experience to go, so in these cases, I did manage all of the above tips from you and Comparativist in order to keep expenses low (i.e. public transport for ground travel, cheap meals, etc.) because everything I didn't find a travel grant for was out of pocket. I think I was able to do a 3 day trip at a big city in Canada for around $700, including airfare (airfare was the biggest part). But as Sigaba also pointed out, this method is likely not a great idea for professional conferences. At an undergrad conference that is mostly for fun and for learning/personal development, it makes more sense. 

In my opinion, part of the transition from undergrad student to grad student is developing from the mindset that we have to sacrifice and make cutbacks in our personal lives for professional development to the fact that we are now working professionals that provide value to others and should thus be properly compensated (of course, grad students are still partially in training, so there's still more development between grad student and PhD holders).

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