Research is an intensive process which takes a lot of dedication. Given how much focus is needed to build a career in academia, participating in other events—like academic conferences—may take a backseat. However, attending these could be highly beneficial for you. Here’s how:
It gives you a chance to meet and interact with your peers
Research work can be isolating at times. At conferences, however, you can meet people who share your subject of interest, network, make new friends, and get to know about their research work. It can turn into an enriching and rewarding experience for you. Seminars are often hotspots for making the right connections, growing your professional network, boosting knowledge and, in turn, enhancing your research career. Such connections will help you stay active in research and not lose your momentum in the confines of a lab with the absence of likeminded people.
It helps you get feedback on your work
You can actively participate in a conference by presenting your own paper. This is a great opportunity to bring out your work in front of a select audience. Do not be afraid to present your latest research—and resist the temptation to only present those papers you are most comfortable with—because you can get valuable feedback from your audience on your work. Questions, arguments, and constructive criticism can help add value to your work and incorporating some of these suggestions might give you a better chance to get the paper published.
It improves your communication skills
The art of communicating well is a skill you will require all throughout your professional life. Conferences provide an excellent opportunity to hone this skill and build confidence. You get to speak on your area of research in front of your audience. This will help you to get to know your strengths and weaknesses in communication. You will understand the pace at which you need to speak, and the amount of details required to express an idea well while commanding the audience’s attention. This only comes from practice and this is the perfect stage. If there is a session at the end when you need to answer queries, you will see yourself come out as a more confident person and this will immensely help your professional life. Moreover, interacting with peers at a conference will help build your interpersonal and conversational skills. So, start early and do not hold back!
It keeps you abreast of the latest developments in your field
Academia keeps on changing, improving, and modifying, and conferences are the best places to find out the latest trends in your research field before they are announced in the public domain. Sometimes scholars present their preliminary research in conferences even before they are published in journals. Societies announce guideline changes and research breakthroughs at conferences as well. Attending these will enable you to keep pace with the latest progress and insider views on contemporary research in your field. You might find new ideas, perspectives, and even new approaches to your work.
It lets you find potential collaborators
Meeting people with shared professional and research interests could lead to a potential partnership and collaboration in your work. This might even broaden the scope of your research in terms of perspectives and geographic location. You may get to meet scholars whose work you admire. And who knows, if you get lucky, a little conversation can spark up a future collaboration!
It makes you challenge yourself and grow
Challenges bring out the best in us. And what better place to prove your mettle and enhance your academic importance than a conference which presents you multiple opportunities to do so?
Presenting papers here is different because the audience is not your regular peer group. You get the opportunity to put out your ideas in an unfamiliar arena and grow personally. You need to debate and discuss your ideas with the attendees. This will help you refine your ideas and maybe even find solutions to problems that you’ve been facing.
It bolsters your resume
Having a good resume goes a long way. Whether you’re applying for a job or a new position at a different educational institution, a resume reflects you as a professional. It shows how proactive you have been in your academic life. If you have presented a paper at a conference, it adds value to your resume. Attending conferences shows that you are curious and enthusiastically engage with your subject of research. It can always make you a better choice of a candidate to potential employers or grant-awarding bodies.
You get to explore a new place
Lastly, conferences can always be fun because you get to travel and explore a new place. These events generally have formal dinners or lunches. You can get to try the local cuisine of the place, visit the famous tourist spots and experience their culture, and make new friends. It is never a dull affair!
Get out of that bubble!
These reasons should be enough to get you surfing for the appropriate conferences for you to attend. So, what are you waiting for? Break the monotony of your regular schedule by attending an interesting academic conference, and build your academic reputation and yourself in the process.
1. “8 Reasons why you should attend academic conferences” by Fatima Qureshi, Author, Editage Insights, viewed on 19 October 2022, https://www.editage.com/insights/8-reasons-why-you-should-attend-academic-conferences