Does presenting at conferences increase the number of citations to the work presented at the conference?

I am limiting the scope of this question to disciplines where conference presentations are not publications and are not usually cited.

Statistics or evidence of some kind would be appreciated.

  • If you aren't active at conferences, it will be more difficult / take more time for others to see and understand your work in the context of theirs. And, the opposite occurs - the more you understand how your work impacts others, the easier it becomes to frame your work and articles in terms that are important (and more likely to be cited) by others. No clue on how to get relevant statistics in this case unless there are various folks who volunteer to be a control group for the next decade or so... – Jon Custer May 30 '17 at 13:22
  • I suspect the answer to this question (if it really can be answered in any kind of a conclusive way, of course) is field and project-dependent, even if we're just considering meetings without published proceedings. In biomedical meetings, at least, one presentation may correspond to at least several different publications at varying stages of completion. – Harry May 30 '17 at 16:24
  • I imagine there is a positive effect. Probably a little more than based on the number of people in room (maybe affected by people at least scanning the abstract.) I expect it is pretty minor though. Most cites probably come from lit searches. I guess you could do some study where you interviewed some paper writers and asked them what prompted the cites (I bet mostly you hear lit search, not saw at conference). But sure there is a benefit. I have even provoked someone to doing a specific study to follow up on me. So that came from the conference for sure (had a sexy topic). – guest Jan 20 '19 at 8:39
  • Of course it is a tradeoff versus staying home and getting more work done too. If all you do is give talks, you're not progressing the work either. But some amount of going to talks is worth it for multiple reasons ("reward", learning, spreading the word, finding collaborators, etc.). – guest Jan 20 '19 at 8:41

Yes, most definitely. The simple reason is that at conference it is relatively easy to pick up on the development of a certain field or ones own interest. And naturally, this leads to a bias towards those studies presented.


First, consider the simple thought experiment that if a) people tend to cite work they've seen/heard about and b) people pay attention during conference presentations then it follows that there must be some positive effect of presenting at conferences. Of course, this isn't very helpful to answering your question.

I don't think that it is possible to answer this with statistics or evidence, because any sort of study would only be able to show correlation between presentations and citations. And surely there is some sort of correlation: consider that prominent researchers often attend conferences because they may win awards from the conference, they are more likely to give keynote presentations, or they may be involved in the organizing/steering committees.

The actual direct effect of gaining a citation because of a presentation you gave must be extremely small. Consider that in the audience you present to, probably only a small amount are directly working on the same problem as you. And if they're already working on the same problem, they're most likely going to cite you anyway, regardless of whether they hear your talk or not.

Last, I'll offer my personal opinion that the benefit from giving a presentation is not that it increases your citations, but rather that it offers a networking opportunity. If you give a memorable talk, especially one that people in different subfields find interesting, they will remember your name and your work, even if they don't cite you.

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