I have two different pictures of the reasons what for people go for the conferences – Polish one and let’s call it “international” one. 

Bellow the photo from the international conference which I attended this week (of course I blurred it because I didn’t asked people if I can publish their faces)

On the first year of my PhD I attended only one Polish conference, and I was also in an organisational committee for my supervisor’s conference. From all “call for papers” which I received from my supervisor I knew that on most of Polish conferences in your conference fee you have included additionally to a presentation of your paper also a publication in a journal published by the organiser (most of Polish universities publish journals regularly), of course after review. And because of this you cannot present the same paper/ research twice in Poland, because you have it already published after the first conference where you presented. So for each conference you need to prepare new research. And some of the people when they see “call for papers” they prepare they research quickly and also try to fit them to a conference topic, because there is high ranked publication opportunity. Not another way around – to find the conference which fits to our research interests . 
Try to imagine how I was surprised when I was submitting an abstract for my very first international conference on my second year of the PhD studies – there was no information about publication opportunities afterwards… I went there and I saw mixture of the people on the different stages of an academic career – Professors presenting results of very serious research and PhD students presenting their research ideas, first results, or sometimes even just plan for research. And to be honest – I prepared my conference paper and a presentation in “the Polish style” which I knew. So,  it was just developed idea for research, not connected with my PhD topic. I prepared an abstract just from the top of my head, and I started to work on the research when my abstract was accepted. I was surprised when people on the same stage of the PhD studies were presenting some part of ongoing PhD research or just idea of their research. 

Then I understood the real aim of the conferences. And what I noticed was confirmed during my stay in Germany. First of all – conference is not for production of publications (as in Polish case). During my stay in Germany I realised that some of this Polish universities journals should be called – “working papers series” and then it would be more appropriate nomenclature. Some of them should be “conference proceedings”. But then probably “ministerial points” for publications would be lower in case of “working papers series”, and it is just profitable to call it a “journal”. I also found out that people from my working group go and present the same paper few times on the different conferences. I also noticed it during my second international conference on the third year of my studies, when I saw people presenting continuation of their work from the previous year… Fortunately that time I was presenting preliminary results of my research project in Bremen, and this time I used the conference properly. What does it mean? 

I will point some proper reasons why it is useful to participate in the conferences:

  • You can present your research idea, ongoing research, preliminary results, and receive priceless feedback, remarks, comments, and in the end you can improve your research 
  • You can be inspired by other people work, you can enrich your knowledge, you can hear about some interesting approaches etc. 
  • You can meet top researchers from your field and talk with them 
  • You can meet other researchers who are interested in the same topic, and discuss ideas with them 
  • You can meet potential collaborators, and maybe one day start working together on a research project 
  • You can present your research results and be remembered by others and start to be visible/ recognisable in your field/ topic 
  • You can meet other PhD students and you can share your experiences about studying in different countries, and share your doubts and problems, then you don’t have this feeling that all PhD students in the World are for sure going better than you 😛
  • If it is a conference aimed for a PhD students and Early careers in your field you can receive useful recommendations how to build your career 

What are your conferences experiences? 

P.S. I have one nice story from the last conference. It will come in the next post 🙂