Many of our academic or professional fields have leading national and international organizations/associations, and I’ve heard a lot of stories about how difficult it is to get your papers and projects accepted for presentation at their national or international conferences. The situation is real when we as graduate students are competing with other junior and senior scholars in the country or even around the world. However, have you thought of starting with smaller-scale and more local conferences? For example, the “southwest/southeast chapter of XYZ association/organization’s annual conference”, or the conference of Texas chapter of your organization. In this blog I will tell you some benefits of going to regional conferences.
1. It is less intimidating to present at regional conferences.
This is easy to understand. More often than not, regional conferences have smaller scale sessions, less number of audience, and higher acceptance rate. They can be a good start for new graduate students, especially those who just got into an academic or professional field and have little conference presentation experience. They are also great for communicating your projects in early stages. You can communicate your methodologies and initial findings, or even initial ideas, in a more relax environment.
2. Friendly audience and more feedback.
Most of the professors attending regional conferences know each other for many years, so regional conferences are like parties and get-togethers for people from different schools and institutions. These professors and other graduate students from your field in the nearby states are very supportive of each other’s work, and they are willing to give you detailed feedback and suggestions that you may not get in larger-scale and faster-paced national and international conferences. You also have better networking opportunities with other scholars and potential employers.
3. It’s easier to travel within the same region.
A conference in Texas or the surrounding states will save you a lot of time and energy than conferences that happen half way across the continent. It is also more likely for your peers in your department to travel in a group with you, and covered by departmental or university funding (Check out the OGAPS Research and Presentation Travel Grant!). Many people go to the same regional conference every year to get most updated research and information in their field, and go to the national and international conference whenever they have time and funding. If you’re new to academic conference presentations and the conference environment in general, why not start from the local and regional ones?
Mingqian Liu is a doctoral student in the Department of Architecture