I am trying to figure out how important it is for a grad student to present their research at a conference. Let's assume the paper with the research is definitely going to be published.

  • Does it look better to a potential postdoctoral advisor if the work was also presented at a top international conference? Could it be the thing that gives one candidate the edge over another?
  • Is networking at a conference much more effective if you have a poster to refer people to?
  • Is there any point in going to a conference without a poster?

To give you some more background, why I am asking is because my supervisor has said that I can attend a conference but they don't want me to present a poster (my data is too preliminary). However, if it was really good for my career, I would be willing to challenge them on this point. But first I really need to weigh up if the advantages of presenting outweigh the chance of annoying my supervisor. My other option is to not attend the conference at all, and instead delay going to one until I have solid results to present, but I'm afraid of missing out on this opportunity.

closed as off-topic by padawan, user3209815, Enthusiastic Engineer, Coder, Florian D'Souza Nov 16 '17 at 13:57

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  • 2
    See billf.mit.edu/sites/default/files/documents/cvprPapers.pdf - the point being that unless you have really good work, the likely effect on your career overall is close to zero, and if you have bad work, the likely effect on your career might actually be slightly negative. If your work's very preliminary, the likely effect is also slightly negative - people will assume it's finished work and think it's bad. So I would suggest thanking your supervisor for paying for you to go even without finished work, and then attend. I certainly wouldn't argue too much about it. – Stuart Golodetz Nov 14 '17 at 12:54
  • Could you add your field? Attending a conference is worth a lot in some fields, nothing in others. Would there be conference proceedings published? At least in chemistry a poster presentation is advantageous on the bachelor or master level, maybe at the beginning of PhD. If you apply for postdocs there should be several journal publications which count much more than a poster. – DSVA Nov 14 '17 at 22:20

It's probably best to listen to your supervisor, especially if they have seen your data. If they have not, show him/her your work and explain to them why you believe this conference would benefit from you presenting. That way you have greater clarity regarding why they disagree, and you frame it as the conference benefiting from your contribution rather than you simply gaining a reputation advantage by presenting premature data.

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