Selecting a Conference

Selecting a Conference

The following module discusses the factors that should be considered when choosing an academic conference for presenting your research.

 Learning Objectives

  •  List the reasons academic conferences are valuable
  •  Explain the factors that should be considered when choosing a conference
  •  Describe the process and the necessary steps for getting accepted to present your research at a conference


Why Should You Attend a Conference?

Academic conferences are valuable to faculty and researchers for many reasons.  Probably the most important thing that a conference offers is the opportunity for you present your research findings.  When you formulated your research question, you obviously felt it was a question worth asking.  Therefore, your results should be worth sharing.  This provides visibility to both you as a researcher and your research results, which creates an opportunity for feedback.  Feedback from others in your field can be critical to improving and strengthening your future research efforts and may be helpful when writing your manuscript to submit for publication.  Conferences also allow you to network with others in your field and discover what your peers are researching. These networking opportunities have the potential to develop into future collaborations with your fellow researchers.

When Should You Attend a Conference?

Obviously your research should be close to finished and you should have confidence in your results before submitting a proposal for a conference presentation.  But the sooner, the better because the project will be fresh in your mind and you will still be enthusiastic about it. However, in reality, you are also a slave to the schedule of possible conference dates.  Some conferences are a one-time program, while others are offered on a regular basis, often annually. There are multiple websites that researchers can use to explore the conference opportunities in their field.  Following is a link to comprehensive list of academic conference possibilities:

Academic Keys - Finding a Conference

EdSurge Infographic of Higher Education Conferences

What Factors Should You Consider When Selecting Possible Conferences?

With the plethora of conferences opportunities available to researchers, it is important that you spend some time selecting the conferences that are most appropriate for you before submitting proposals. Following is a list of key factors that you should consider before selecting a conference.

  • Conference can be expensive when you consider travel, hotel, registrations and so forth.  Identify your funding sources and decide how many you can afford to attend.  Overall, you will need to consider whether a particular conference has enough value to make it worth the money.
  • Following cost, the most important aspect to consider is whether or not your work fits the theme of the conference and if the conference is a good match for the scope of your work.
  • Consider who is hosting the conference. A university? A government agency?  Avoid predatory conference where the main goal is for those hosting the conference to make money.
  • Well established annual conferences are often best. They are typically well attended by others in your field and will have an established reputation.
  • Find out what journals are affiliated with the conference.  The opportunity to get published may be one of the best selling points for a conference. Be certain that any affiliated journals are ones that you are interested in.  It should be part of your publication plan.


Once You Have Selected Potential Conferences, What is the Next Step?

Most conferences will require you to submit a proposal or an abstract for consideration.  The first step will be to decide what type of presentation format best fits you and your research. It may be a poster presentation, an oral presentation or one of the other options available. Proposal guidelines will vary by conference, but proposals are typically fairly short. It is an easy process, but should be taken serious if you hope to have your work accepted for a presentation.  For more information on presentation formats and developing proposals, see the specific Research Ready: Presentations modules related to those topics.

Presenting at Academic Conferences

The following YouTube video gives a full overview of presenting at academic conferences, however, it begins with a discussion regarding how to select a conference and a look at presentation options such as poster session, round tables, panels, plenary sessions and so forth.

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