The excellent Tomorrow’s Professor Mailing List posted this article from Inside Higher Ed: Double Dipping in Conference Papers — If you are going to give a talk at a scholarly meeting, do you need new material?
The paper is about political science. It reports on a study that found a considerable increase in duplicate presentations — the same title, presented at more than one conference — from zero in 1992. Whereas faculty said they had been taught as grad students that this was unacceptable, current grad students responded to the question with “blank stares” — no idea that this practice might be controversial.
It gives the arguments pro and con. Pro: papers benefit from discussion and revision; audiences at any one conference presentation may be small. Con: getting credit for multiple scholarly products when it’s really the same one. And it notes that with “the ‘enormous pressure’ to present at scholarly meetings when possible …it is ‘unrealistic and undesirable’ to expect completely new work for each such event.”
It concludes that the solution is to be honest and clear about what you’re doing.
For our field, I think it reflects one more difficulty of multi-disciplinary work: different norms across different fields; the need to present the same research to different, non-overlapping audiences; and the academic credit system, wherein products are counted numerically.