I have been able to attend a few different conferences and workshops during my limited time being a masters and PhD student. Some to present my research and some just to watch presentations.

I have have found my experiences throughout the various conferences/workshops vary quite a bit. I am not referring to the organization of the conference in particular (lunch, venue, extra events) but rather the experience itself. For example, the audience varies greatly in size and age with some having large and mixed audiences and some having smaller and older audiences. Some conferences seem to cover a wide range of topics and some cover more specific subject matters. Also, the quality of talks seems to vary greatly.

Having been to a few of these now it has made me reconsider the benefits/usefulness of attending these events. Originally I had thought it was beneficial to attend as many conferences as possible to learn from presentations and network with other researchers. But after having attended a few conferences which have had limited talks which relate to my research, I've found I often end up being jetlagged in another country not being able to do research and just kind of wasting time.

Because of this, I have been considering whether it is better to just try and choose one or two conferences per year which have a younger audience and seem to be moving in the right direction and focus on trying to publish at those yearly. By doing this I can see getting more benefit from attending the conference and also have an academic community to grow with over time.

What are your experiences with getting the most out of conferences, do you attend as many as you can or limit it to specific ones which relate to your research? How do you decide which conferences are worth your time and aren't just looking for registration fees? My particular area is computer science/engineering.

  • “Computer science/engineering” is extremely broad, and conference culture varies significantly among different subfields. Can you be more specific?
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


What one gets from attending conferences depends a lot on some personal factors, especially for junior researchers: some people socialize easily and can build fruitful professional relationships, some people are well organized and able to continue their regular work on their laptop while attending talks, some people are interested in almost every talk whether it's close to their research area or not, etc.

Personally I'm not very good at any of these things :) This is why I don't try to maximize the conferences I attend. I try to attend a couple every year, most of the time when I present something. So I choose conferences primarily as a venue for the topic/level of my paper.

To me conferences are a good way to get a general overview of what the field has been up to, finding what are the interesting new directions and the odd clever approach. Poster session are usually a good way to discuss things in more detail and ask about things which are a bit far from my own research area. I often find many interesting things to study later at conferences... and usually I don't have enough time to actually study them later ;) But overall it's really useful in order to see where my work stands in the context of the community.

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