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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Inside Higher Ed looks at the practice of "double-dipping" in academic conference presentations, i.e., giving the same talk more than once.

As Nelson C. Dometrius, a professor of political science at Texas Tech University, writes in his introduction to the journal’s debate, when he raised the question with senior faculty members, he received mixed reactions, with people quickly outlining special cases where they viewed such “double dipping” as justified. When he posed the same question to graduate students, Dometrius relates, “the modal reply was a blank stare — a lack of comprehension that presenting the same paper as many times as you wished would be viewed by anyone as an unusual or questionable practice.”
The idea that double-dipping should be discouraged in anything but the most marginal cases, in which huge audiences have heard the same talk more than once, is indeed pretty foreign to me—but then again I think the real issue here is that the obscenely wasteful practice of academic travel should be widely curtailed, if not abolished outright. In the vast majority of cases, these conferences could have had the same or better results through teleconference technology, YouTube, or on a message forum on the Internet—there's no excuse for lefty academics to be paying so little attention to the size of their carbon footprints.

That I personally find academic conferences to almost always be a fairly dull affair has little to do with this analysis.