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Nowadays, in almost every scientific field, there are hundreds of conferences. Many call for papers emails fill our mail boxes.

Freedom of choice is great, but, how to choose to which conference send a paper?

Should I choose one...

  1. based on the scientific relevance?

  2. based on the scientific vicinity to your paper theme?

  3. based on its prestige?

  4. because of some official ranking?

  5. because it provides the best food?

  • 4
    I suspect the answer is different in computer science (where conference papers actually matter) than in other fields. – JeffE Jan 18 '13 at 16:34
  • 1
    It is always about the location ;) – StrongBad Jan 18 '13 at 16:55
  • 1
    Have you asked your advisor? – Paul Jan 18 '13 at 17:03
  • If you have the money, then target the top conferences wherever they are. If you have secured a faculty position, then target the conference you like the most whether its top or not. – seteropere Jan 18 '13 at 21:25
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4

In an ideal world, you would like to choose your conference by their relation to your paper's main topic, and the possibility of impact to your field.

Now, you might be inclined to choose according to other filters:

  • Based on its "possible attendants", such as a highly-esteemed investigator you might want to know and get feedback from, in a more personal way.
  • Your own "travel experiences" (such as wanting to travel to a far-away location, or to re-visit some beautiful place).
  • Most conferences consider acceptance as a "at least one of the authors must attend and present their work" binding commitment, so unless you are going with your college's support, you must consider the ongoing rates on inscription, hotel rates and added values (such as travel expenses or food, among others).

Some other reasons might apply, but your main filter must be to choose a conference in which your work is closely related to.

  • 1
    Some of the best conferences I have been to have been ones outside my area of specialization, but for a new research sticking on topic is probably key. – StrongBad Jan 18 '13 at 17:04
  • I concurr, but you at least need to send a paper that is "somewhat related" to the main topics of the conference, for them to accept it. – Ricardo Segovia Jan 18 '13 at 17:26
3

Not a complete answer, but is substantially reduces the number of conferences to consider, the first things I consider are: timing, location, duration, cost. It has to fit into my teaching schedule and I have to have results and enough time to write them up, but not so far off that I want them out (timing). A one or two day national conference is much easier to deal with than a week long overseas conference (location and duration). I have to be able to afford it (cost).

2

Why choosin' a conference instead of another?

Conference is a social event. Even in computer science where conferences really matter, attending and presenting a paper either in a talk, or as a poster is still a personal dissemination of results. With this prelude, I argue that you should choose also (if not primarily) on the basis of what kind of audience you expect to attend your presentation.

  1. sometimes, your paper is a message to the community (incremental works or methodological remarks come to mind). In that case you want to target precisely the community your paper speaks to. So even if it would be a small workshop without proceedings, if your result matters to the small community, you should speak primarily to them.

  2. most of the time, you have a standalone research result. Q: What are you after with it? A: impact = citations. Hence, go to a place attended by those guys who are likely to cite your work. Usually, that is correlated with the position of the venue on the Top-XYZ ladder = badge (see below).

  3. sometimes, you want to get a badge = have a paper at this prestigious conference which will shine on your CV. Fair enough, there you have the way to decide.

Ideally, you should go for a place providing both 2 and 3. Honestly, I see little good from choosing a conference based solely on its focus. Doing so, you might end up at C-tier venue full of people who are interested in the location and the buffet.

0

If you are new to research or new to a particular field, you should discuss this question with a colleague who has experience in that field (for students, this is your advisor). They know which conferences are the most important/useful/well-attended. After some time you will know this too and can decide based on personal experience.

Outside of expert advice or personal experience, here are my criteria, in order of importance:

  1. It is sponsored by one of the major relevant professional societies. Which are relevant depends on your field. In mine, this means SIAM.
  2. The work I would like to present is relevant to the focus of the conference.
  3. The timing and location make sense. This can depend on many things, but it is less convenient to travel when you need to be in class (as a teacher or a student). You may have limited funds, or limited tolerance for long flights and layovers. Choosing a conference because you have some particular desire to visit that location is not generally a good idea unless the other factors here align too.
  4. The size of the conference, in number of attendees and also breadth of scope. After many years I have come to the conclusion that smaller, more focused meetings are more useful to me, but I know people who feel just the opposite.

In fields where conference submission acceptance rates are relatively low (i.e., the process is highly competitive), conference prestige or rankings should indeed be an important factor. In others (like mine, applied math) conference submissions are not really competitive and there is not a hierarchy of conferences in terms of prestige.

For small thematic workshops, criterion #1 above is often irrelevant; but for anything larger it is essential.

Don't choose a conference based on the food.

  • Why does professional society sponsorship matter? IEEE in particular has sponsored some truly shady conferences in the past. – JeffE Dec 5 '18 at 12:54
  • @JeffE fair enough; I've edited my answer. In my field, any large meeting that's worthwhile is sponsored by SIAM or its equivalent in another region. I don't have enough experience with other societies so I removed them. As already noted, for small meetings this is irrelevant. – David Ketcheson Dec 6 '18 at 20:13
  • Even in applied math, professional societies sponsor conferences because they're worthwhile, not the other way around. Most AI and machine learning conferences are (a) not sponsored by a professional society and (b) huge. – JeffE Dec 6 '18 at 21:44
  • @Jeffe Sure -- I'm not claiming causality, just correlation. I explicitly state that these are my own criteria; I can't speak about other fields because I don't have any knowledge there. – David Ketcheson Dec 6 '18 at 22:08

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