How to choose an academic conference?

If you are a new postgraduate student, “how to choose a conference” could be probably a tough question. The issue is that you only have limited time, limited money, and limited number of research paper, yet, you want to have feedback for your thesis and experience the academia world.

However, even though we already looked for a great conference, where we can receive good feedback or great networking, you were still trapped in a “lodging” conference where nobody gave you feedback, or even attended your session. You only could see people during lunch or dinner. The worst is you paid so expensive for that “lodging” conference.

I have experienced both “great” conference and also a “lodging” conference. I share it to you so you can make a good decision in choosing a conference. But again, this is my personal view and personal opinion.

Target the numbers

When I was in my first and second year as PhD student, I was so naïve. I just went to any available conferences. I spent most of my research fellow salary just for conferences. I thought it was a good idea. Then, I realize that potential employers do not buy number of conferences. Research centre or University usually pays attention only to which journal you hit successfully. Just keep in mind that going to conference is (just) for networking or having constructive comments. Make a target about how many conferences you will attend. My personal opinion is that going to 4 to 6 conferences is already more than enough.

Submit to Annual Conference

After you target the numbers, you should carefully choose the conference. The first screen is that by checking whether the conference is annual conference or eventual conference. If it is annual conference, make sure you will attend not the second or third annual conference, but maybe the sixth or seventh annual conference. A well-established conference indicates academia knows this conference, it is a well-managed conference, and usually academia comes to this type of conference. Hence, you have your chance to have feedback or good networking.

In my field, there are many examples of annual conferences. For instance, there are Global Finance Conference, Malaysia Finance Association Conference, Asia-Pacific Management Conference, Asian Academy of Management Conference, or Australasian Finance and Banking Conference. Always check the famous conference in your field.

Hosted by University

My second screening is by checking whether the conference is hosted by university or government organization or other well-known research institutions. This is important to avoid a predatory conference. I attended several of predatory conferences where they asked you to pay so high, and told you that you have chance to publish in their journal or their affiliation journal. But their main goal is money. I don’t say it is wrong, but it is hard to have good feedback or networking when you attend those predatory conferences. At least, if it is hosted by university (if possible a famous or widely-known university), you will have better feedback, and you will not feel that you are being fooled or scammed.

Back-up by Good Journal

Opportunity to get publish in a journal is a selling point of a conference. Yet, you have to be careful with that. You have to check whether the journal offered by the committee is a predatory/sceptical journal or a good journal. If you are in management field, you can always refer to ABDC list to see whether the journal is listed or not. Another way is by searching the journal name in this list http://scholarlyoa.com/individual-journals/ . If you are ISI or Scopus fascist, bear in mind that not all ISI and Scopus journal is a good journal. Don’t easily get attracted by those “marketing strategy”. This is my third screening.

Have best paper award

Employer might not buy your CV which has a lot of conferences. But they do buy the achievements you made. Winning a best paper award will beautify your CV, a lot! Even though this is my additional screening process in choosing conference, I have to say you have to choose a conference that offers best paper award. There are two reasons for this (besides “making-up” your CV if you win it). Firstly, it will motivate you to make the best paper. Second, you can learn from the winning paper about how to make a good paper.

Value for money

Another thing that you have to consider is the value for money of the conference. Paying USD750 for Global Finance Conference or Australasian Finance and Banking Conference is worth it. Either you use money from your own pocket or from grant or from university, great conference is always be a great investment. But paying USD500 or less for predatory conference is useless. You have to think whether the money that you spend for the conference will be valuable for your future. Just always keep in your mind about Return on Investment for this matter.

Closing Remarks

Now, you can consider those 6 points as the reasoning in choosing academic conference. Don’t simply go to any conference, unless you have plenty resources (money, research papers, time, etc). I used to say that we can use conference as justification of travelling to our faculty. It is totally wrong. Why you have to spend USD500 so you can have approval to travel? I mean that if you really dream to go to London or Paris or New York or Rio, just wait until there is a good conference hold there. Please don’t simply choose any conference just for the sake of travelling. Another important thing is that if you really want to have holiday while you are attending a conference, extend your day and smartly use your day. But again, this is my personal view. It is up to you.

Hopefully, it is fruitful for you. Enjoy your academia life, happy researching.

Rayenda Khresna Brahmana (@raye_brahm)

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