Question
Asked 28th Mar, 2020

What are the pros and cons of running virtual conferences?

What are the pros and cons of running virtual conferences?
I ask this question because the current challenging situation with the COVID-19 pandemic has, understandably, meant the cancellation or postponement of many conferences. In response to the crisis, some of the professional bodies I am involved with have decided to run virtual conferences instead.

Most recent answer

30th Dec, 2021
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
During 2021 I continued to attend, organise and co-chair a number of virtual conferences. It's a great way to watch top international speakers give papers without having to travel to conferences. Also most of the presentations have been recorded so can watch them post-conference. This has been useful when there has been more than one conference stream to attend.
Virtual conferences have radically reduced my carbon footprint and without accommodation/travel costs my expenditure is kept low. The best conferences have set-up virtual networking rooms so you can speak to the speakers and chat to colleagues.

Popular Answers (1)

Pros:
Save Money
The biggest and most obvious benefit to point out is the cost savings of attending or hosting a virtual event instead of a brick-and-mortar event.  Think about all the costs associated with trade shows or conferences offline.  You have to rent meeting space or pay a fee to put up a booth at an exhibition hall.  Your company also has to front the money for hotel costs, transportation, and other work-related expenses for all employees who are traveling to attend the event.  And then there are the additional costs associated with putting up your booth.  Now imagine being able to eliminate all of those costs.  Instead, the only cost is the money you have to front for the virtual event, which will usually run you only a few thousand dollars.  Attending a trade show in person?  That can easily run you 10 times that.
Less Time Wasted
When you travel to participate in an offline event, that’s valuable time your employees are investing in travel.  You have to pay your employees for their time during work hours, and you are wasting their time after hours.  That is all time your employees could be using to do something else.  Traveling is inconvenient.  If you can do all your business from your office (as you can with a virtual event), your employees are free to concentrate their time on other tasks.  On this same note, virtual events tend to be faster paced than those in real life since the attendees don’t have to physically move from space to space.  So you can actually end up meeting more people at online events than you could at offline events.
Easy Note Taking
When you attend an offline event, you have to come up with a way to record information, which generally comes down to taking notes on your tablet.  You don’t have to carry around these supplies or put in this effort with virtual events though.  All conversations, whether text- or voice-based, can be recorded and stored indefinitely for all participants to access at any time in the future.
Fast Planning and Set-up
Planning attendance at a trade show offline can be a complicated and challenging prospect, and may take a great deal of time and effort. Just putting up and taking down a booth can be a day’s work in itself.  With a virtual event, you can get everything set up and running in a half hour if you are attending, and if you are hosting, you will save even more time overall.  Sending out invitations is as easy as providing your attendees with a link, and you don’t have to set up accommodations or make complicated arrangements.  There’s no “take down” process afterward for your booth; you simply close up the program and you’re done.
Promote Online for Wider Outreach
You can promote an online event with ease on social media websites and on your company website.  What’s great about virtual events is no one has to travel for them, including customers, potential customers, business associates, and others who are located in distant cities or countries.  These people can all attend your trade show instantly, just as you can, without leaving their locations.  You get a wider outreach this way, and everyone gets to participate.  While the conference or trade show is in progress, attendees can continue to spread the word in their social media circles.
Cons:
Distractions
When you’re attending an event in person, there is nothing to distract you (assuming you turn your cell phone off and aren’t online on your tablet).  The office however is full of distractions, from the phone ringing to the internet being at your fingertips.  You have to find a way for attendees to virtual conferences at your office not to be distracted by these local activities.
Less Spontaneous
While the fast-paced nature of online events may help you meet more people, there is also less spontaneity in the virtual world.  When you are attending an expo event in person, it is common to just bump into random people—who then may turn out to be interested in your company or products.  These people can forge important professional connections with you.  You are far less likely to randomly meet people at a virtual event who are not present specifically to talk to you.  This can make networking more challenging.
No Business Vacation Element
Some employees view attending events in the offline world as a kind of reward.  This is because trip tends to be just that—a trip.  Even though they are required to do business on their trip, it can still be seen as a kind of vacation, one where many expenses are being paid by the company in return for attendance at a trade show or conference.  It may take a toll on employee morale if these trips are removed.  Not all employees view them as an inconvenience.  Many look forward to them all year, so you may need to find another way to reward your employees.
With INXPO’s award-winning virtual online platform you now have the ability to reach a global audience, further increasing your event ROI. Enable additional revenue opportunities by allowing access to content even after the curtains have closed, for as long as you’d like. With access to real time reporting you can track and measure the effectiveness of your events and share specific analytics with your key stakeholders including your partners, speakers, and executive sponsors.
4 Recommendations

All Answers (19)

Pros:
Save Money
The biggest and most obvious benefit to point out is the cost savings of attending or hosting a virtual event instead of a brick-and-mortar event.  Think about all the costs associated with trade shows or conferences offline.  You have to rent meeting space or pay a fee to put up a booth at an exhibition hall.  Your company also has to front the money for hotel costs, transportation, and other work-related expenses for all employees who are traveling to attend the event.  And then there are the additional costs associated with putting up your booth.  Now imagine being able to eliminate all of those costs.  Instead, the only cost is the money you have to front for the virtual event, which will usually run you only a few thousand dollars.  Attending a trade show in person?  That can easily run you 10 times that.
Less Time Wasted
When you travel to participate in an offline event, that’s valuable time your employees are investing in travel.  You have to pay your employees for their time during work hours, and you are wasting their time after hours.  That is all time your employees could be using to do something else.  Traveling is inconvenient.  If you can do all your business from your office (as you can with a virtual event), your employees are free to concentrate their time on other tasks.  On this same note, virtual events tend to be faster paced than those in real life since the attendees don’t have to physically move from space to space.  So you can actually end up meeting more people at online events than you could at offline events.
Easy Note Taking
When you attend an offline event, you have to come up with a way to record information, which generally comes down to taking notes on your tablet.  You don’t have to carry around these supplies or put in this effort with virtual events though.  All conversations, whether text- or voice-based, can be recorded and stored indefinitely for all participants to access at any time in the future.
Fast Planning and Set-up
Planning attendance at a trade show offline can be a complicated and challenging prospect, and may take a great deal of time and effort. Just putting up and taking down a booth can be a day’s work in itself.  With a virtual event, you can get everything set up and running in a half hour if you are attending, and if you are hosting, you will save even more time overall.  Sending out invitations is as easy as providing your attendees with a link, and you don’t have to set up accommodations or make complicated arrangements.  There’s no “take down” process afterward for your booth; you simply close up the program and you’re done.
Promote Online for Wider Outreach
You can promote an online event with ease on social media websites and on your company website.  What’s great about virtual events is no one has to travel for them, including customers, potential customers, business associates, and others who are located in distant cities or countries.  These people can all attend your trade show instantly, just as you can, without leaving their locations.  You get a wider outreach this way, and everyone gets to participate.  While the conference or trade show is in progress, attendees can continue to spread the word in their social media circles.
Cons:
Distractions
When you’re attending an event in person, there is nothing to distract you (assuming you turn your cell phone off and aren’t online on your tablet).  The office however is full of distractions, from the phone ringing to the internet being at your fingertips.  You have to find a way for attendees to virtual conferences at your office not to be distracted by these local activities.
Less Spontaneous
While the fast-paced nature of online events may help you meet more people, there is also less spontaneity in the virtual world.  When you are attending an expo event in person, it is common to just bump into random people—who then may turn out to be interested in your company or products.  These people can forge important professional connections with you.  You are far less likely to randomly meet people at a virtual event who are not present specifically to talk to you.  This can make networking more challenging.
No Business Vacation Element
Some employees view attending events in the offline world as a kind of reward.  This is because trip tends to be just that—a trip.  Even though they are required to do business on their trip, it can still be seen as a kind of vacation, one where many expenses are being paid by the company in return for attendance at a trade show or conference.  It may take a toll on employee morale if these trips are removed.  Not all employees view them as an inconvenience.  Many look forward to them all year, so you may need to find another way to reward your employees.
With INXPO’s award-winning virtual online platform you now have the ability to reach a global audience, further increasing your event ROI. Enable additional revenue opportunities by allowing access to content even after the curtains have closed, for as long as you’d like. With access to real time reporting you can track and measure the effectiveness of your events and share specific analytics with your key stakeholders including your partners, speakers, and executive sponsors.
4 Recommendations
29th Mar, 2020
Jeff Sedayao
Intel
In addition to Dr Umesh Kumar Lilhore 's very thorough answer, you might want to take a look at some of the responses to a related question here:
2 Recommendations
30th Mar, 2020
Renaud Di Francesco
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
I agree with the points made by Dr Umesh Lilhore.
Now what would be desirable enhancement:
-i) to the virtual conference as we know it
-ii) to the classical conference with physical presence.
-i) Sociability tools
Once you hear the speakers or the Q&A contributors, you may want to interact with them, hear more from them.
It may be interesting to get background, further Q&A opportunities continued later (chat/blog) to expand new ideas coming from the conference, or gaining deeper insight on what was presented.
It may also be good to have "virtual coffee" opportunity with interested people one-to-one or as interest groups one could subscribe to
-ii) Health and safety could be introduced at classical physical events
We have learnt that NPIs (non pharmaceutical interventions) from Health Policy against contagion, starts with health distancing, and can have different intensity levels up to lockdown at home.
This might be easier to support by a conference organised with modularity:
-case of session for a very large group addressed by one or few speakers from a podium
The physical social distancing may increase the health risk of gathering 50-100-1000 people in one space, except if this space is outdoors (or a large exhibition venue), similar to a pop concert in a park or field, with the possibility for attendees to have individual pic-nick tables and seats. Audio and video transmission from "the podium" may be staged in a variety of ways, as well as feedback and Q&A.
-case of smaller podium-less session for smaller and more interactive group
In such session, the discrepancy of role between the speakers and the other attendees is less. Social distancing should play against people sitting at the same table in direct visual and audio contact.
That would be eased by having people moving on a floor-marked space, where mutual distance is kept safe.
Audio communication might be using wireless microphones and audio renderers (loudspeakers or headsets). Visual aspects might be less problematic (robustness of visual signals versus more attenuation and interference impact on conversation audio signals in free air propagation).
-case of one-to-one, coffee-break type of sessions
An image coming to mind is the see-saw, where the two persons in conversation are seated a comfortable and safe space apart. Then seating or table standing arrangements inspired by the seesaw might suitably host convenient and safe one-to-one interactions.
Corridor conversations might be eased by floor marks where two people in conversation might safely stand.
I hope that the above adds to the previous contributions:
-improving virtual conferencing for more sociability
-improve physical conferencing for safer sessions
Do you agree?
2 Recommendations
31st Mar, 2020
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Thank. Some very interesting responses so far.
31st Mar, 2020
Alice Marino
Nature Publishing Group
There might be new expenses involved too such as technicians, I'm guessing...
1 Recommendation
31st Mar, 2020
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
That's true Alice although still probably a lot cheaper than renting a real venue.
1st Apr, 2020
Samir Sharif
Al-Azhar University
Pros:
Easy way to meet regardless of place and time.
Interactive ways of media can be used.
Questions and answers are available easily.
It can be recorded and clouded to review later.
Cons:
May be not being used to that.
2 Recommendations
25th May, 2020
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
I recently attended a 2-day virtual conference. I was surprised how interesting and engaging it was and not tiring at all. I have heard a number of commentators saying that people are getting 'zoomed out' but I have found that events that have adequate breaks and allow for participant input in chat rooms and Q&As are fine.
27th May, 2020
Dr. Dinesh Tripathi
King George's Medical University
Visual meetings are perfect for small groups, exceeding 10-15 people would be a major logistical problem. If you want a fluid communication, to deal with each point with the person in charge in a suitable time and, above all, to have a fast capacity of call, you must choose a virtual meeting. Some benefits for virtual congress are like:
1.They add flexibility to projects 2. Reduce reaction times 3. Facilitates team meetings 4.Reduce logistical costs
1 Recommendation
27th May, 2020
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Dinesh. I agree for meetings, it maybe more problematic for large teams although in zoom, breakout rooms can be very useful in such situations. However, at a conference, when papers are being given normally the delegates will just be listening to the speaker so there is less interactivity until the Q&A time at the end. And I agree that it really does reduce logistical overheads. What I've really liked is not spending anytime on travel.
3rd Jul, 2020
Nicolas Large
University of Texas at San Antonio
I believe the perspective and concerns of the conference organizers (cost, logistics) and the perspective and concerns of attendees (cost, logistics, benefits) are also different. Even for attendees, pros and cons are also dependent on your situations/status/position (student vs Research vs Junior Faculty vs Senior Professor, vs Industry Engineer vs Sponsor, ....) From an attendee perspective I personally more significant cons than pros. A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece about this (my own opinion):
1 Recommendation
5th Jul, 2020
Abdelkader Mohamed Abdelkader Elsayed
Benha University & Dhofar University
A virtual conference is an interactive online event that brings together a group of people with similar interests or expertise so that they can learn from one another. Similar to live conferences, they are very engaging but occur entirely online rather than in a physical location.
1 Recommendation
5th Jul, 2020
Abdelkader Mohamed Abdelkader Elsayed
Benha University & Dhofar University
Dear Dr. Stephen Palmer ,
The Cons of virtual conferences are:
  1. No face-face networking
  2. Distractions
  3. Ineffective sponsorships
  4. Less Excitement
1 Recommendation
5th Jul, 2020
Abdelkader Mohamed Abdelkader Elsayed
Benha University & Dhofar University
Pl. Follow this link about Pros & Cons Of Hosting A Virtual Conference:
1 Recommendation
6th Jul, 2020
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Dear Abdelkader Mohamed Elsayed
Good pros and cons list. Thank you.
Regarding 'No face-face networking', some of the virtual conferences I've attended allowed live discussion between the speaker and other attendees so that you can still feel as if you are talking/discussing to each other. You can see and hear each other. However, other conferences have just used Q & A posted questions so although it comes over as more professional, it is far less interactive.
19th Dec, 2020
Minakshi Puzari
Dibrugarh University
Pros: Saves money and time.
Cons: Poor internet connectivity can be an issue.
1 Recommendation
19th Dec, 2020
Stephen Palmer
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
I have now attended a 5 or more virtual conferences this year and have found them a great learning experience without the travel and accommodation costs. The best conferences also had networking sessions after each keynote/paper to talk to the speaker and/or the other conference attendees thereby providing a good balance.

Similar questions and discussions

My Opinion on Virtual Conferences
Discussion
11 replies
  • Nicolas LargeNicolas Large
The current Covid-19 situation is forcing people to put things in perspective and wonder about the future of everything. As an example, scientific conferences, currently impacted, turn to online format to serve as platform for knowledge dissemination. Although this move is totally justified and understandable, you can find more and more articles and opinion pieces discussing the future of Scientific, professional, and academic conferences. What I am writing here is in no way concerning the current situation, but it is concerning the post-pandemic future of conferences. Before diving into the subject, I wanted to use my own experience as an illustration what is coming I have delivered over 30 talks at national and international conferences all over the world. Although some of these conference could have been more productive or more beneficial, each of them has been a uniquely enriching experience…. All but one. In 2010, when I was finishing my doctoral studies in France and Spain, two of my contributions got accepted as oral presentation in one of the top international conference in my field which, that year, was help in Taipei, Taiwan. I could not have been happier, two talks at the top conference, in Taiwan, and my advisors in France and in Spain had the funding to cover for my travel expenses. However, just before the conference, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland erupted and disrupted all air traffic in Europe preventing people from leaving Europe. As many researchers were stranded in Europe, the conference announced that we had the possibility of either presenting remotely via Skype, or submit a recording of the presentation that would be played at the conference session. My first talk was scheduled at 9 am local time which was 3 am in France while my second talk was scheduled at 1:25 pm the following day (7:25 am in France). As a result I had decided to record my first presentation as I did not want to Skype in at 3 am, and I decided to wake up early to give my second talk over Skype. As a student, both options were awfully awkward. The outcome? I never had any feedback, question, comment or any sort from my recorded presentation. As far as the Skype presentation goes, I had absolutely no idea who saw it, if people enjoyed it or not. I had not question during of after the presentation. I was hoping to network a little bit, meet with some collaborators I had never met in person, and try to find postdoc opportunities but none of these happened.
Although traditional in-person conference cost money (travel, hotel, registration fee), they offer a wide variety of benefits if you know how to take advance of the opportunities.
Training of junior researchers. Public speaking and presenting your work in front of a large audience presents more challenges to overcome than giving an online presentation. You have to work on your verbal communication skills as well as body language. There is also a higher stress than in a virtual format because people are looking at you and because you can see facial expressions, people shaking their head as sign of disapproval, and people doing something else which signals they may lose interest. These are things you do not face when you talk to your computer. Sure people listen to you (or not) but you are still alone in front of your computer and you do not see if people actually listen to you, if they seem to find your talk boring or entertaining, or if they just seem to disagree with you claims. You are missing this real-time feedback that in-person setting offers. Learning to read cues from the audience is a great skill to have, it helps the speaker, correcting the course of the talk or the way he/she presents. You are learning adaptability. It also provides significant indirect feedback from the talk. If you see the majority of people diving into their laptops and phones after just a few minutes, maybe you need to work on your communication skills to better engage your audience. Something your do not get from virtual format. Learning to move on stage, speak in a microphone, make eye contact with people, demonstrate or illustrate your statements with hand gestures, and link your work to one person in the audience by pointing/naming the person, all of this, makes your presentation more interactive, more engaging, and more alive. These are very valuable skills that are needed in any professional career and that cannot be gained in a virtual conference setting. Some people say that online conferences are also stressful because of potential technical issues that may occur. Well, they happen all the time in traditional conferences as well. There are those people coming with their own laptop on stage to realize they do not have the right connector. There are those who struggle to share their screen and go in presentation mode even though they went through the testing room before. And there are those transferring their ppt presentation onto the conference laptop who realize after a few minutes that all their mathematical equations are completely messed up and display as hieroglyphics or that a video does not want to play because of software incompatibilities.
Exposure to state of the art research. If you attend a traditional in-person conference and if you are taking it seriously you will very likely stay in the conference room for the entire session (or most of it), for the whole day (or most of it), for the duration of the conference (or most of it). Agreed, staying in a room all day from 8 am to 5+ pm is tiring and can be long, especially if there are a few uninteresting talks here and there, but, is that feasible to stay staring at a screen all day watching presentations? True, we already work all day on computers but we do not stare at the screen all day. We also read papers and notes, write things on a notebook, sign documents, answer phone calls, discuss with people stopping by our office. Sessions are typically 2-3h in a regular conference, there are typically 2 sessions in the morning and 2-3 sessions in the afternoon, and a conference is between 3 and 5 days. An online conference with the same format is like watching the complete trilogy of the Lord of the Ring and the Hobbit each day for 3 or 5 days in a row. Yes, we live in digital world but there are physiological limits. You may be a fan of the LoR, like I am, but it is exhausting and it gives headaches (at best), and I am not sure anyone would stand the whole 3-5 days of constant screen time. Some people say, you just pick a few talks here and there that are interesting. Well, then you loose the exposure to the research activity going on in your field which is one major reason people go to conferences, and you are probably in that group of people who come to conferences, gives there talk and either leave soon after or spend the rest of the week sight seeing.
Connection with other researchers and networking. The major and maybe top motivation to attend conference is networking. Whether you are a junior researcher (student, postdoc) seeking opportunities, a junior faculty seeking new collaborations and funding opportunities, or a seasoned professor willing to recruit new people in your group, seeking new collaborations, or strengthen existing collaborations, in-person conferences are the best choice.
Junior Researchers. Which student or postdoc did not dream to join the best research group in their field? Which student did not need a strong letter of recommendation for a job or an award? Top researchers and professors received tons of email requests from students looking for a postdoc opportunity, or letter of recommendations. Personally, as an Assistant Professor I receive multiple requests every week, most of them I don’t even know. If that person doesn’t know the student and never met the student, forget it, the email will go directly into the trash. Attending a in-person conference gives the opportunity for junior researchers to approach professors and senior researchers and introduce themselves. True, they may forget the student’s name within the hour, but if the student contacts them afterward, they can remind them “you may not remember my name but we’ve met after your presentation” or “I’ve asked you about a potential postdoc opportunity in your group” and then automatically the professor will picture the context, the face of that junior researcher and will very likely engage on a more personal basis. If you are in academia, this must ring a bell. With virtual conferences, they won’t know your name, they won’t know your face, they won’t have any context to remember you. You’re loosing the opportunity to make a more one-on-one personal contact.
Junior Faculty. Junior faculty, as I am myself, need to develop new collaboration opportunities, expose yourself to the community, and increase your footprint into the field. It is very convenient at an in-person conference to briefly introduce yourself and chit-chat a few minutes with other colleagues in your field in between two presentation or between sessions. Casual discussions around a coffee or more formal meetings can happen. When you are the speaker, you can see in the audience who is present at your talk (or even just part of your talk), because you see the faces. So it is easy to catch up and connect with people afterward. If you need a support letter for an award (which all junior faculty need) you know who attend your talk(s). It becomes easier to ask “I need a support letter for this award, and since you have attended my talk at that conference I thought you were the best person to discuss my accomplishments in that area”. With virtual conferences, you have no idea who’s in listening to you. Even if the names are displayed somewhere on the interface when your give you’re online presentation, you do not have the time to scroll through all the names when giving your presentation. On the other hand when you give an in-person presentation you automatically see the faces in front of you. People may have read your name on papers, but you’re just a name. Show up at conferences and they associate a face to this name, you become a person. People connect to persons, individuals, not just names. If you show your face at multiple conferences you become a part of that community. If you do not present anything or even if people missed your presentation and see you walking down the hall and sitting in sessions they know you’re here. They will wave or stop and chit chat, you’re part of the community. When attending virtual conference, if people do not attend your talk, there no way they will know you’re there. You cannot “bump” into someone.
Professors and Senior Researchers. Top people in any field are very busy folks. Very often, when they come to a conference to deliver a keynote, plenary, or invited talk, they come in just for one day, maybe two. They very rarely attend the entire conference, which may be frustrating for junior researchers and faculty who want to connect with them. However, when you are aware of that fact, you can still take advantage of this narrow time window to connect with them. In a virtual format, are these top professors reaming online the whole day so you can connect with them? Sure not. If they connect in to give their talk from their office, and maybe stay in for a couple of interesting talks, they will disconnect very rapidly to go back to their daily business (meetings, grants, papers,...).
Keeping in touch with the academic researchers around world. While international conferences are expensive and many people cannot afford them, they still attract people from all around the world. If carefully planned, they are held in nice touristic locations which gives an additional incentive for oversees researchers. Which Asian scientist doesn’t want to come to California for a Spring conference? Which European scientist doesn’t want to go to Cancun for an early summer conference? Which North American or South American scientist doesn’t want to go to the French Alps for a winter conference? Most of the time, these people who decide to make these long and expensive travels stay a few extra days for sight seeing or take the opportunity to further network by delivering seminars in nearby universities and labs, visit “local” colleagues. Virtual conferences may be attractive for local, regional, and national conferences, but add other constrains to oversee researchers. Sure, the cost is lower since you do not have to travel, but are you willing to give a talk at 2am? Yes, time zones have an impact on international conferences. China and the US are 12-15h apart, Europe and US are 5-10h difference. Even if you’re willing to deliver a talk at 2am, would you stay up all night to attend other people’s talk? Would you do that all of the 3-5 days of the conference? Keep in mind that you also have a day job. Sure you can record the talks, or access talk recordings the conference make available. But, first, watching a video recording 12h after the presenter gave the talk does not really favor interactions with the speaker and the other people who attender the talk. And, second, as a speaker, you do not need conferences to post recordings of one of your presentation online so people can watch freely.
It is true that conferences are expensive. It is also true that not all of them are interesting and worth the money. Whether you are a student, postdoc, research, or professor at any stage, you need to carefully pick your conference, those with the highest visibility and exposure, those with the participant roster that meets best your needs and interests, and without fooling yourself the best locations. By doing so you should get the best of the conference. In virtual conference,s you get a different set of issues that will strongly limit the outcome you get from the conference. Poor training of junior researcher, poor networking opportunity and setting, lower participation of top researchers and oversee researchers. Virtual conferences do not provide anything worth. It would probably be better to just record a presentation, upload it online on YouTube, your group website, Facebook, Linked-in, or any other platform and send the link to all the people you know in your field. It is free and you can do it anytime of the year.
Misuse of the iThenticate report for rejecting manuscripts
Discussion
2 replies
  • L.F. KissL.F. Kiss
Recently, I submitted a manuscript to Small and later to Advanced Materials (both from Wiley) which was rejected for considering for review by both journals on the base of self-plagiarism. Referring to the iThenticate report, they claimed that I had copied substantial parts of the Introduction, Experimental section and Results from one of our (already published) previous papers. This is true in the sense that the scientific (literature) background and the description of the experimental setup and the measuring protocol contained very similar (though reworded) sentences. However, the samples measured by the same experimental setup and measuring protocol were quite new and consequently the results presented are different from those reported within our previous publications. This fact did not hinder the editors in claiming that what we did is a breach of the journals ethical guidelines. Whereas the ethical guidelines both of Small and Advanced Materials says: “Some reuse of text from the authors' own (cited) work may be appropriate in an introduction or experimental section, but there should not be substantial overlap in the main discussion.” In our paper, according to the iThenticate report, practically no textual overlap can be seen in the Discussion.
In the Results, there are overlaps in the figure captions and this illustrates well how absurd is the accusation of self-plagiarism. The figure captions, indeed, are practically the same in our present and previous papers. The iThenticate report notices right away that the same sentences are used in both papers. However, it does not recognize that the samples to which the figure captions refer are different in both papers. If I want to write that the magnetization is measured as a function of temperature, no matter how I say it, I have to write that the magnetization is measured as a function of temperature. There will always be common words and the computer program will recognize them. The same is true if I describe how a curve behaves in a plot. It can increase, decrease and have a maximum. If two different samples give similar dependences of anything as a function of anything, similar words have to be used for the description and the computer program will recognize them.
I think it is the duty of the editor to recognize that this self-plagiarism is formal and it may be the reason that even the journal’s ethical guidelines allow this type of text overlap.
The editors suggested that the paper be entirely rewritten before resubmission to another scientific journal. However, it is impossible to implement by fulfilling the criteria on the basis of which our manuscript was rejected. The only solution would be not to publish it. It is a Catch-22.
I think that the editors of Small and Advanced Materials misuse the iThenticate report contrary to its original purpose. Therefore, I asked in an appeal to Advanced Materials that the matter be discussed before an independent body and that it make a decision. Instead, the editor against whom I filed the appeal answered repeating the accusation of our violating the journal’s ethical guidelines. It means that the independent body consisted of him/her or the body was not even set up. Anyhow, the journal did not provide a fair remedy to my appeal.
Have you ever encountered this type of editorial attitude? I have been in the field of scientific research for 40 years with almost 200 published papers and I have never met such a behavior. What is your opinion?
Laszlo F. Kiss
P.S.: In the meantime I have uploaded the manuscript to ArXiv (2209.04199).

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Gaps in accessibility force students from historically marginalized backgrounds to navigate academic spaces, such as conferences, with minimal support. However, the large shift to virtual platforms has opened up a path toward inclusivity by offering more flexible involvement options and new opportunities for students to engage with research profess...
Article
Reports on the proliferation of virtual conferences that took place during the COVID-10 pandemic. Discusses the possibility of joining the two worlds of online and in-person conferences can be joined to create even better experiences in the future.
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