When I was in graduate school, I wanted to go to TONS of conferences, and went to 2, maybe 3 (if I was lucky), per year. And, honestly, it was a lot more about where the conference was and who (of my friends) were going to be there than the content.

Now? I’d be happy to keep it to 1-2 per year. I just don’t want to be away from home for any extended period of time. Plus, I’m not going there to party (on the contrary – I get excited about being able to sleep without interruption!), so to make it worth it, a conference needs to have a lot of applicable sessions and/or opportunities to network with other education & outreach people.

The problem is, now that I’m working in an interdisciplinary research area, there are many more conferences to choose from, and many more where having a presence is important (though perhaps not the most useful for me personally). Luckily, we have graduate students and a couple faculty members that are happy to present posters at conferences they are attended for scientific purposes, but I need to put in my time too.

I’m trying to decide whether I should pick 2-3 conferences and go the same ones each year to build up a network (seeing the same people, etc.), or to choose 1-2 constants but change up the other(s) to meet new people. I know I have some time, but I do think I need to set the precedent this year so there are no surprises or unrealistic expectations in the future.

How many conferences do you attend per year? Do you go to the same conferences every year, or try to change it up? How do you decide which conferences to attend?


Comments on: "Conferences" (4)

  1. well obviously i've blogged a lot about this already, but I'm now realizing that at this stage in my career (and personal life) conferences that don't have some “other” motivation are useless for me. So I'm going now only if I'm invited to participate on a panel that will help network me to people and/or if it is somewhere I really want to go without paying! Awful I know, but the preparation of conference papers in the humanities isn't as closely linked to publications as it is in the sciences and as you note, the difficulties. shifting home life are just huge.

    So this year that is going to mean 2 conferences down from a potential 4-5


  2. I've been schizophrenic in my conference going. On sabbatical I was traveling every single week and that wore me out. So the year after I only went to 2 conferences. In general I average around 4. And it's usually 2 that I always go to and 2 that I change up based on where papers get accepted.

    This year I won't be able to go to one of my two regulars (if all goes well), so I'm substituting the big formal conference even though I didn't submit anything and I'm not interviewing there. Just to be seen and say hey, I'm still alive even if you don't see me this summer.


  3. Wow it sounds like our fields are really different in this respect! There is one major national conference every year that is an obvious choice for everyone in my field – and if you don't go, people wonder why. Then there is one more interdisciplinary one that I should/will attend because it involves my niche content area (though like you I'm not really excited about conferences anymore). I can't imagine going to 3-5 in one year!


  4. I usually go to one or two a year. It really depends on funding from my university, especially since I sometimes travel to Europe or Africa for conferences in my field (African history). Now that Charlotte is here, I am trying to figure out how many conferences to attend this school year. I am reluctant to commit to any, much less one overseas, since I would need to pump and dump, but I'm also feeling quite disconnected from my research and research community right now. Decisions decisions…


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