Whether it’s your first time attending a conference or you’re trying to find a conference in a specific field to test your research, it can be a tough task. Which is no surprise as there are over 200,000 research conferences worldwide. With such a vast amount of conferences globally, it’s important to fully understand how to find a conference that fits your research goals.
Research conferences present an opportunity for your work to come under scrutiny from the outside world. This is a vital part of conferences: to discuss your work with peers, find out where the quality of your research stands and get feedback from researchers in your field. Preparation is key and it begins the moment you start to try to find a research conference.
The most obvious step when you’re trying to find a conference is to do the legwork. Start by searching for relevant conferences on PaperCrowd to get an idea of the conferences in your field. Once you've found a research conference on PaperCrowd, follow it so you get updates from the organizers.
Once you know what’s out there, ask your fellow researchers what local, national and international conferences they’ve attended and how beneficial they were. There’s also a wealth of experience in your local academic department, you could ask them which conferences they recommend. These word-of-mouth recommendations will help you identify which conferences in your field are worth considering. This also provides you with an opportunity to check out if your peers are familiar with the conferences you’ve followed on PaperCrowd.
When you’re trying to find a conference to submit to, make sure the conference matches the timeline of your research. Ensure you have most of your work completed before submitting a paper or abstract to the conference. High-quality conferences will have an early call for papers (4-11 months beforehand) due to their peer review process. Some conferences demand a full paper for submission and others request an abstract or extended abstract.
Unless you work in a niche field of study there should be more research conferences than you can fit into your schedule. So it’s important you also identify what you want to take from your experience at the conference. Treat the conference as a military operation: preparation is crucial. When you’re choosing a conference you need to understand what type of researchers will be there and identify the type of person you want to network with. The guest speakers and organizing or scientific committee will give you an idea of the type of researchers who’ll attend.
Conferences can be costly. When you’re identifying potential conferences to submit to, assess the price of attending if it’s available. Some conferences open submissions and announce their fees simultaneously, but others may announce their registration fees later. There are a number of costs you need to evaluate: the cost of registration; the cost of accommodation close to the venue; and the cost of travelling to the destination.
If you hope to be presenting, check for grants, bursaries or other financial help available from your university, research institute or the conference itself. There’s often help available for early-career researchers to attend conferences. If you’re seeking financial help to attend a conference, it can often be easier to get approval for conferences that are relatively near and don’t require long-haul flights.
While it’s important to find a research conference that matches your research goals you have to ensure it’s not suspect. "Predatory conferences” are not organized by scholarly or professional societies. Early-career researchers who are working hard to improve their resume/C.V. are often capitalized on by companies who hold poorly organized, profit-fueled conferences. These don’t use a peer-review system and often have high (and rapid) acceptance rates and charge excessive fees to attend.
Predatory conferences usually falsely claim that certain researchers sit on their organizing committees and they also have an overly broad scope of topics. If you’re not sure if a conference you’ve found is predatory or not, cross-reference the conference name or organization with Bealls list of predatory conferences and publishers , or check out Phaedra E. Cress’s journal article on predatory conferences. Attending a predatory conference can be a costly mistake for your research and your budget.