An introduction to academic conferences

I recently returned from a marketing conference and I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to the somewhat glitzy world of academic conferences. This is will be the first of a five part series giving you an insider look at conferences.

Academic conferences are the highlight of the academic social calendar. They are a time when academics can spend days nerding out about their topic of interest. A time when academics and PhD students get to travel to new places and share their latest research results. They get to join in the conversation, meet new people and perhaps even give their ego’s a little boost (I’ve seen plenty of the latter). Here I will give you an introduction to academic conferences by answering 3 questions I once had about conferences.

Who goes to academic conferences?

Conference attendees

Myself and Preeda, whom I met at this year’s ANZMAC conference

Academic conferences are for anyone wanting to be a part of the academic community in their research area. Generally this includes postgraduate students, PhD candidates, tutors, lecturers and continuing academics. Increasingly too, practitioners are finding that academic conferences provide a good platform to keep up with the latest research in their industry.

Why go to academic conferences?

Everyone has their own reasons for attending conferences, but here are the most popular:

  • Academic conferences are great opportunities to network, particularly to with people in your own niche research area. It is common to meet future collaborators on journal articles at conferences.
  • The latest research is presented at conferences, so it is a great opportunity to keep up to date, and keep one’s finger on the pulse. So often academics get caught up with teaching their students, they forget to keep learning. This is a great way however to learn the latest happenings in their field.
  • If you attend the conference to present your research, you also get to expose yourself and your research to other academics.
  • Quite often academics will give you feedback on your research, and help you to perfect an idea before submitting it to a journal.

Which conference is right for me?

There is no right or wrong answer here. Firstly, it would be a great idea to talk with other 101_0060PhD students or academics in your university department and see which conferences they attend. If possible, try and go along with someone you know, that way your first conference will be less daunting. Check out which journals publish articles in your field as quite often a journal will host an annual conference. For example, in my field, The Australasian Journal of Marketing sponsors the ANZMAC (Australia & New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference).

To receive the second installment – Behind the Scenes of an Academic Conference – of my feature on academic conferences, please follow this blog. On the home page, you can sign up to receive each of my posts emailed straight to you.

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