A scientific conference is a meeting in which scientists and scholars from a certain field of research participate as speakers. Participation is open to an eclectic audience of experts in various fields and non-experts, gathered in an inclusive environment where science communication can advance and expand its audience, transferring knowledge about discoveries and cutting-edge techniques.
- We meet to know the recent developments,
- present new data and discuss it critically,
- involving the public in the world of science,
- promote learning,
- socialize and meet new colleagues,
- stimulate research in a field of study,
- collect feedback from the professional community that will help in the advancement of your research.
Regular attendance at conferences is of the utmost importance for the development of one’s scientific career and being invited as a speaker at conferences involves countless tasks, attention, and challenges, but it also counts as a prestigious recognition from a professional point of view.
A researcher who is asked to participate as a speaker begins his work for the conference months ahead before the scheduled date; first, he must prepare his speech by informing himself about his audience. Most conferences lead to the publication of a book on conference proceedings, which lists the abstracts (summaries) of the research projects that have been presented. All important findings are then published in paper format and formally reviewed and revised in journal articles. The media can often erroneously report scientific conclusions based on conference proceedings due to a lack of review.
A researcher, or a group of researchers and/or students, may be interested in organizing a conference, for example, at their university. In the bibliographical references provided below some documents are proposed on how to organize successful meetings with attention to the smallest details. Some steps to consider when planning a conference are:
- the definition of a vision that includes measurable goals and objectives,
- sending invitations to potential members,
- the identification of possible expenses and the planning of a budget (taking into account that it may vary),
- the choice of a location that allows access for all, supporting diversity and inclusion,
- the organization of a meeting after the conference to gather feedback on the success or otherwise of the conference,
- sending notes of thanks to the rapporteurs who presented their work.
Organizing conferences involves wanting to communicate science to a wide range of people in a limited time frame, but you may also want to plan something more “challenging”; that lasts one or two days, for example, scientific retreats. They can appeal to a particular constituency (e.g. Ph.D. students) and can involve hundreds of participants from an entire institute or just a dozen from a single research group. Participants take part in the retreat with the expectation to learn
about discoveries in their fields of interest or to present their latest findings to an expert audience, but mainly to get a deeper insight into the work of their closest colleagues, learn from developments in related areas and explore potential collaborations.
Bajec, P. (2003). How to organize a conference: Step by step manual. International Association for Political Science Students. www.iapss. org/downloads/publications/iapss_conference_manual.pdf.
Corwin, L. A., Prunuske, A., & Seidel, S. B. (2018). Scientific Presenting: Using Evidence-Based Classroom Practices to Deliver Effective Conference Presentations. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 17, es1.
Fleming, N. (2019). How to organize a conference that’s open to everyone. Nature. 571 (7766):S46-S47. DOI: 10.1038/d41586-019-02253-9.
Langin, K. M. (2017). Tell me a story! A plea for more compelling conference presentations. The Condor: Ornithological Applications, 119, 321-326.
Ponomarenko, J., Garrido, R., & Guigó, R. (2017). Ten Simple Rules on How to Organize a Scientific Retreat. PLoS computational biology, 13, e1005344. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005344.