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I've seen many academic CVs list the conferences the individual participated in, and I can't help but wonder how is this information useful? I can understand citing journal articles because this gives information as to the type of research the individual is doing, but I have no clue as to why listing conferences adds anything.

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    I guess that you are not referring to scholars in the computer science discipline... – dgraziotin May 28 '15 at 12:29
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    There exists an academic society such that its conferences select papers for presentation (peer-review). In fact, I myself have a paper selected by one such society and I went to one of their conferences to present my paper. – Megadeth May 28 '15 at 13:07
  • Why do you think all these researchers turned up at a conference: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solvay_conference_1927.jpg – Chu May 28 '15 at 22:16
  • @Chu I'm not sure what you're getting at but notice this question is about putting conferences on one's CV and not conference's in general. The few conferences presentations I've made were based on the papers that got accepted in journals. Thus, I never saw the need to mention conferences since I could cite the published paper. – user119264 May 29 '15 at 1:46
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    Some conferences are by invitation only, and being invited is evidence that you are regarded as an expert in the relevant field. Some conferences are open to everyone to attend but all talks are invited and being a speaker is considered prestigious. Really, without further information about what field you are thinking of, it's hard to answer. – Sasho Nikolov May 29 '15 at 3:54
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I typically have seen conferences appear in CVs in three ways:

  1. Peer-reviewed conference publications, which in some fields (e.g., computer science) can be as important as journal articles
  2. Talks given at conferences, whether based on peer reviewed papers, non-reviewed abstracts, or invitations, which give evidence that the person has experience with scientific speaking.
  3. Service to the community, whether as an organizer, a reviewer, or a student volunteer.

Beyond that, just saying "I paid $600 to register for this conference and all I got was this lousy tote bag" seems rather pointless.

  • Under point 2 I would even include posters if they're a thing in your field. But regardless of that a non-peer-reviewed conference talk demonstrates an important skill as well as being (in some fields) an early way of presenting small but interesting results. There's also, for the smaller conferences, the possibility that it will jog someone's memory of a previous encounter. Of course just attending with nothing to do other than sit there proves nothing except your ability to get stuff paid for that's of limited benefit. – Chris H May 29 '15 at 10:47
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Going to a conference without a publication, poster or talk still shows (at least in theory) that you know people in that research field, who you might be able to tap into for advice, collaboration or when looking for new students, all of which could benefit a potential employer. It also shows interest in that research area, although I imagine most potential employers will look at your publications to gauge that.

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If nothing else it shows that the individual is engaged in it's particular field.

Edit: In Europe, CVs are typically shorter (about 2 pages) compared to the US, which can include anything that shows engagement, professional development, achievements, positions, etc.

I personally have 2 CVs. A comprehensive CV, which is typical for academic applications, that includes any and everything I've done related to my professional career, including workshops, conference presentations, etc. The second CV is more concise (2 pages), and is more like a resume - which is what is often wanted by industry.

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