This past weekend I presented at my first academic conference. You're right. No one uses "PhD" or says they have a doctorate or that they are a candidate or student. It is assumed that everyone has a PhD or that you're smart enough to present a worthwhile topic. Plus, in the PhD world, you have a totem pole starting from neophyte scholar to complete badass, well-known published scholar. When the plenary session leader introduced me, she said I had graduate degrees in this and that, that I am economist for more than 20 years, and that I was a pursuing a doctorate at Universitat Abat Oliba. I did get banged up a little in the question and answer period but came out ok. Many scholars told me they liked my thesis and presentation. I thanked the scholars who gave me a hard time during the Q&A but they told me they liked my presentation and wanted to give me a hard time. (My topic was about philosophy and economics.) No one asked me if I was pursuing my PhD via DL because no one cared. It was all about my contribution to the conference's theme. My paper will be published in the proceedings of an international journal. I have to tell ya - I'm ready for another academic conference! It's a contact sport but you learn a lot!