Are you a student/early career researcher and a little unsure what it means to attend a conference? This page is designed to answer some of those questions about what happens at an academic conference, and why conferences are beneficial.
What happens at an academic conference?
Speakers generally present research either as a talk or a poster. Presentations may be at any part of the on-going (for example, research the author intends to do or a literature review of a topic) or completed research process (i.e. completed study).Talk presentations last approximately 15 minutes with 5 minutes for questions and several presentations with a common theme are grouped together. Posters are displayed throughout the day, discussed with other delegates at a scheduled time or during the breaks between talks.
Conferences may also feature symposiums, where several speakers will talk about a particular research area that they are heavily involved with. They are generally more interactive than normal presentations or ‘talks’. Some conferences also may have workshops available. They generally encompass interactive elements. For example, at The Psychology of Emotion and Feeling we are accepting workshops which use innovative methods to understand (and measure) emotions and feelings.
Finally, academic conferences include ‘Keynote Speakers’ on the conference theme/subthemes. John Cromby will be a Keynote at The Psychology of Emotion and Feeling Conference and is the author of “Psychology, Mental Health and Distress”, which is being adopted as the core text for several mental health/clinical psychology modules at various universities.
What are the benefits of attending and/or presenting at a conference?
One of the most important benefits of attending a conference is networking and meeting others with similar interests. This may be particularly relevant if you are at the end of your first/second year and are considering your options for your dissertation, or if you are unsure how to progress following your undergraduate degree.
Also, if a career in academia is something you are interested in or if you are considering doing a postgraduate degree, presenting (either a poster or a paper) at a conference is something that is invaluable to your career progression, and sets your CV apart from the rest (particularly at undergraduate level) .
The benefit of this particular conference is that it is scheduled early in the academic year, prior to many dissertation hand in deadlines. This then gives many current third year students the opportunity to get feedback from others in your discipline before your deadline.
How do I go about presenting at a conference?
First you need to decide what you wish to present, and whether the conference you want to attend is relevant to your research. To do this you need to check out the conference themes. A ‘Call for Papers’ is a document that informs potential attendees of the conference themes within which your research is required to fit into. Each conference is different (some may have a submission/registration form, for example), but as a minimum you are required to send in an abstract of the intended research you wish to present, including the names of the authors and the institution with which they are affiliated. Your submission will then be reviewed by the organisers and returned after the Call for Papers deadline. There are usually several Call for Papers deadlines, with the ‘Final’ deadline representing the last chance to submit.
For example, the first Call for Papers of The Psychology of Emotion and Feeling conference was scheduled for the 30th of November, with members of the committee feeding back their decision (i.e. whether your paper was accepted, accepted with amendments, or rejected) within two weeks following this deadline, whereas the final submission deadline is the 15th of February 2015.
Do not want to present but wish to attend? The majority of conferences incur some sort of cost. So make sure you check out all the relevant information before you register. Our conference is free, register here.
Our student conference aims to provide students from all walks of life with a supportive environment within which to present their work. Not sure your research fits? I am more than happy to talk this through with you: Lauren.firstname.lastname@example.org