D.J. McPhee
20 March 2024
Posted inMarketing Post authorD.J. McPhee

Navigating Academic Conferences

Navigating academic conferences can be challenging. On the one hand, you want to ensure that you are properly representing your journal. You want to network and connect with authors. Ideally, attendees at the conference will leave with a positive impression of you and your journal.

But fundamentally, navigating academic conferences is more than just having a good sales pitch and a booth. As we discussed previously, conferences are not all the same—and this lack of consistency means that you need to be flexible.

As we noted previously, “In some cases, conferences are enormous, multi-day events. Sometimes, they are hybrid events, where participants from around the world can attend virtual events, but people can also go to in-person events. Regardless of the model, academic conferences are an important part of academia—and of academic publishing. The purpose of an academic conference is to bring together academics, researchers, and also other institutions, to share knowledge on any number of subjects.” This is to say, that academics attend conferences in furtherance of the field and their careers. You may be able to help grow your business, but you’re not the star.

The science is.

The organization of conferences

While you might not be there because of the content, you should definitely understand what is happening at the conference. And more importantly, who is running the conference. Every conference is different, but they almost all are organized by a scientific society (often just referred to as “societies”) or a group of individuals sharing an area of interest. The organization can be done by the society, or it can be outsourced to professional conference organizers.

A conference often “begins” when a call for papers or abstracts is sent out.

Predatory conferences

Unfortunately, in any instance where there is the potential to earn money, you can also find bad actors. It is possible for a conference to be predatory, and not in the interests of the authors (or you) to attend. It’s important to always do your due diligence when considering attending a conference. These conferences might seem to be perfectly legitimate, but often are attempts to lure academics into paying.

It is critical to do your due diligence when you’re considering being involved in a conference.

Identifying good conferences

Research is important when it comes to identifying conferences. With the Internet, you have a host of tools at your disposal to identify whether or not something is in your interests or not. Participating in predatory conferences can damage your reputation, while being involved in important legitimate conferences can be helpful to your reputation.

We have talked previously about different ways that you can use marketing to your journal’s advantage, whether or not that takes the form of invested effort into growing a social media presence, or even doing basic things like getting your journal indexed. Decisions that you make for your journal are critical, so make sure that you’re considering things in the long term.

Conference events

There are lots of different kinds of conferences but many of them share common elements of how they are organized. Most conferences, for example, will issue a call for papers or a call for abstracts before the conference actually begins. During the conference, there are usually guest speakers and presentations. There are also panel discussions and poster sessions.

Much in the same way that authors want to publish their work in academic journals, participation in conferences can be an important part of their careers.

Events take time

One of the most problematic parts of a conference is that that take time. And time spent working on a conference is time not spent working on other things. It can be challenging, at times, to see how “standing around all day” is a benefit.

These ideas can be even harder to communicate when management styles are old fashioned or focused on “what you’re doing” at any moment of the day. The way that you choose to do business though matters, and sometimes there are ways for you to make sure that there is enough time. Using a journal management system can help to clear up time in your journal’s schedule so that you can focus on things like events.


Your journal’s reputation

One area of focus that we’ve stressed previously is the way in which your reputation matters and how it can be affected. So in the general context of how to navigate conferences, it’s important that your primary motivator be your reputation. But how do your reputation and the conference intersect?

Focusing on your reputation will ensure that decisions made and actions taken serve in the benefit of the conference. If you focus on providing a source for rigorous peer-reviewed content, that helps academics to disseminate their research. If you support conferences (financially or in other ways), you’re helping the spread of knowledge. Making sure that you work in ways that protect your reputation can also have a direct impact on other things.

Your business does not have to be successful at the expense of other journals, conferences, and academics. In fact, your business can be more successful if you help the broader field to grow.

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” as they say.


D.J. McPhee
20 March 2024
Posted inMarketing
Post author D.J. McPhee
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