A professor casually mentioned that when submitting abstracts to a conference in some fields in Applied Math (such as numerical PDEs), it is highly likely that they will be accepted (unless the work is garbage) - unlike some "other fields" (like computational neuroscience).

By this I understand that those "other fields" are more competitive, but I am not sure if I am interpreting this correctly. In general, how does this affect career prospects on the long run? Will it be likewise a lot harder to get an academic job in such "other fields"?

P.S. I am in a U.S. college.

  • 4
    I think you're taking that professor's claim a step too far - it says more about how competitive conference presentations are than how competitive the field is.
    – ff524
    Feb 16, 2018 at 19:00
  • Thanks! Do you know of any reason why conference presentations are deemed more competitive in some fields than in others?
    – Cogicero
    Feb 16, 2018 at 19:33
  • 1
    Generally in fields where a conference presentation carries prestige, many serious and highly qualified people want to do it and there isn't enough room for all of them. In other fields, other things are considered prestigious. See Academia varies.
    – ff524
    Feb 16, 2018 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


I work in inverse problems, more or less a field of applied mathematics.

  • Conference plenary talks are prestigious.
  • People are invited to also give other talks. This might carry some prestige, but I am not really sure.
  • People give contributed talks. This gives little prestige, but is a good idea for other reasons. Typically, for small conferences, all or most contributed talks are accepted, though it might be different in larger conferences.

The thing to learn is that conference talks are of minor importance. Publications in journals count far more. This depends on academic field.

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