Category Archives: conferences

Posts for conference season

Image: Empty session room, CC0 via MaxPixel.net

See that room in the photo above?  Soon I’ll be sitting in it, and you probably will too (most of the conferences I attend, at least, happen in the summer).  I just booked some travel, and that got me thinking conference season. Continue reading

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Making a conference introvert-friendly

Image: Joe Wolf via flickr.com CC BY-ND 2.0

I need your help, because I was asked a question and didn’t know the answer.  Read on…

Conferences are an important part of life as a scientist.  They’re a valuable part of network-building and a chance to exchange the newest ideas, the newest techniques, and the newest results.  But they’re also exhausting – and particularly so for scientists who are introverts, and find the crowded rooms and halls and the non-stop social interaction draining.  Plenty of scientists are introverts – I’m one – and so this isn’t a trivial issue.  I wrote some time ago about how I manage going to conferences as an introvert.  But until just last week it never occurred to me to wonder about the issue from the other end:  to wonder what conference organizers might do to make conferences more welcoming to introverts.  Continue reading

A month of spamvitations

Photo:  Wall of SPAM © Lee Coursey via flickr.com CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Esteemed contributor.  Revered speaker.  Renowned researcher. You get these e-mails too: invitations to publish papers in fake* journals, to join fake editorial boards, to speak at fake conferences.  I’d certainly known I got a lot of them; but that was unquantified, because I usually just grin at their clumsy phrasing and then delete them without further thought.  “What”, I thought, “would happen if I kept track of them all for a month?  Would I learn anything?  Could I milk a blog post out of it?” Continue reading

“Student competition sessions” at conferences are weird

Image: Part of the conference programme for the 2016 International Congress of Entomology.

I’m never surprised when I open up the programme for a conference and see a “Student Competition Session” – a bunch of grad (or sometimes, undergrad) student talks gathered together and judged for prizes*.  Not surprised, but mystified, because I find this distinctly weird. Continue reading

Negative results, conferences, and the open file drawer

I had more than my usual dose of conferences last summer (as you might have noticed).  After four major conferences in three months, something finally sunk in to my tired, tired brain: conferences tell a very different story than journals.  In particular, conference talks are loaded with negative results – far more so than our journals*.  So is this a problem?  An opportunity?  Both? Continue reading

Nametag with knotted lanyard

Are you wearing your conference nametag wrong?

Well, that’s a stupidly arrogant thing I just asked, isn’t it?  Who am I to tell you you’re wearing your nametag wrong?  But here’s the thing: you may not be, but I can make a good case that many of your colleagues are. Continue reading

Conference nametags mostly suck

I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and at every single one I’ve been issued a nametag.  I don’t know how those nametags get designed, but I’m guessing it’s mostly an afterthought.  That’s because they’re mostly terrible.  If you think about it, that’s pretty astounding – because as easy ways to improve a conference go, better nametags are such low-hanging fruit they’re practically lying on the ground.

Here’s a good place to start: what’s a nametag for?  Continue reading