I am a fourth year graduate student of information science. Broadly, I work in a rather interdisciplinary area at the intersection of location based social networks, usable privacy and surveillance studies.

I am post A exam - which in my university refers to a combination of qualifiers, orals and dissertation proposal/prospectus confirmation. I am regarded as ABD/doctoral candidate in my university. I go on the job market in another 6-12 months (depending on certain criteria such as in progress journal articles being published on time etc.)

In my specific field, folks publish in a combination of journals and conferences tending more towards the latter although my committee prefers the former.

My adviser and I have been discussing the possibility of my presenting a general overview of my doctoral dissertation work in doctoral consortiums in various conferences to get feedback and exposure to the community as a whole. Some of the sample conferences where my work is a good fit are here, here and here. I am looking to go into academia primarily (looking for both calls for tenure track positions as well as post doctoral positions)

My questions to the academia.stackexchange community are as follows:

  1. How useful are doctoral consortiums for feedback and presentation of your dissertation in-progress to the broader academic community?
  2. When is a good time to start attending doctoral consortiums?
  3. How many doctoral consortiums are "enough"? (assuming funding to attend multiple ones)

Thank you for reading this question.

2 Answers 2


Having attended one of the doctoral consortiums you linked to as well as one you haven't, here's my perspective (as a student) on what doctoral consortiums provide a venue for:

A) Networking with peers and senior researchers in your field in a very targeted way. A prolonged period of time ranging from 1-2 days is usually provided where you'll be closeted with other consortium students and senior researchers. This gives you a set amount of time where not only will you have a bunch of students with you who are also interested in networking, but where senior people in the field who may not generally be approachable during a conference will be available and open to talking to you. In addition, it also gives you a subset of people that you know will be at the conference that you can continue to network with during breaks and meals.

B) Getting an outside opinion on your research. Doctoral consortiums will usually give you time to present your research so that the senior people in your field can give you feedback. As a PhD student, sometimes it's difficult to get a perspective outside of what your advisor's agenda is. Feedback during consortiums can help to provide new insights into how your work will be received in the larger research community, what people in the community perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses in your topic area, and how they think about what you're doing.

C) It gives you a place to practice presenting your research to a wider audience than just your advisor or your lab. Even in a specific research area like human-computer interaction, which you linked to, there is a wide spread of topics that people will be doing research in. Presenting at a doctoral consortium gives you a chance to really try to explain your research to a receptive audience that may have no background in what you're doing. It's sort of like having a low stakes first shot at what you'll have to do when you eventually give job talks.

D) Depending on the conference, doctoral consortiums are arguably really nice for your CV because some of them are very selective and difficult to get into.

Not all doctoral consortiums are the same, but generally they are targeted for the point in your graduate career when you've picked your topic, done preliminary work or published a paper or two in that area, but before you're really entrenched in your planned research and can still change direction.

The idea is that by getting that outside feedback from senior researchers in the field, they'll be able to give you a nudge in the right direction if they foresee real problems with your topic/work in time for you to make corrections.

The general opinion that I've heard/witnessed has been that going to more than 2 is overkill and that at that point you won't be getting much out of them. However, it's really good to get into at least one as a student.

A last point, since you mention funding, many doctoral consortiums provide some level of funding for students that have been accepted to ensure that they can attend. In addition, they will often cover the registration fee for the conference that they're attached to.

  • Thanks ! This is a great answer ! Might you tell us which one you went to (out of the 3 that I linked?) and what your experience was specifically, there.
    – Shion
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 4:09
  • 1
    CHI Doctoral Consortium, I not only got a lot of great feedback on where I was in my dissertation process but also met a lot of other students, senior researchers in the field, and had the opportunity to see what other students at other institutions were doing. It was also invaluable for giving me others to talk to and continue to meet with throughout the conference.
    – Zai
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 1:17

Here are some answers based on subjective experience in computer science.

How useful are doctoral consortiums for feedback and presentation of your dissertation in-progress to the broader academic community?

As you frame it, they are of little use. Most such events are collocated with better (top-tier) conferences in an area and those and their collocated workshops are actually much more useful forum for presentation of your on-going research.

Doctoral consortia are primarily a vehicle for networking in the community. The benefits of attending an event like that include 1) getting to know better your peers in your "academic generation" (if you remain in academia, this might become useful later in your career: think of them as future collaborators); and 2) getting an opportunity to have one to one interactions with senior members of the community (think of them as future supervisors/employers).

When is a good time to start attending doctoral consortiums?

In the last third of your doctoral studies. Given the purpose of doctoral consortia I mention above, often the participants will be specifically selected to only include those in the later stages of their studies when your thesis is outlined, your main thesis-relevant contributions to the state of the art are already set and when you are supposed to start to look for a post-doc gig.

How many doctoral consortiums are "enough"?

I don't know, but for most people I know one was the right amount.


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