A Guide to Attending Academic Conferences

by Olivia Thornburg, '18

Why should I go to an academic conference?

  • You are exposed to formal presentations in the forms of posters and papers.
  • It’s a chance to network and meet others with similar research interests.
  • It’s a great addition to your resume.
  • If presenting, you gain experience in sharing your research with ordinary people and with others in the field.

What advice do you have for students interested in attending an academic conference?

  1. Dress for Success: Whether you’re just attending or presenting, ALWAYS wear appropriate clothing. For conferences, this means wearing business clothes.
  2. Practice, Practice, Practice: If you’re presenting a poster or paper, be sure to olivia-posterpractice your entire presentation several times through with willing friends, classmates, or professors. This way, you can clarify any confusing segments or just keep the information fresh in your mind.
  3. Bring a Notebook: Bring something to jot down any research ideas that come to mind or to write down the names and contact information of people you meet.
  4. Mingle: It is daunting when you go to your first conference, but really challenge yourself to mingle. You either find someone with similar interests or you make a new friend!
  5. Reflect: After going to a conference, be sure to reflect on what you learned, what interested you, and went well and what could go better regarding your presentation. Maybe even write these things down so you can improve next time!

What about the logistics of going to a conference?

  • Cost: Typically, there is a membership fee as well as an attendance fee for these conferences. For example, the fee to attend the New England Psychological Association conference is $30 which covers membership fees for the year as well as the attendance fee for the conference. Also, people usually provide their own transportation, but at least one other person from the psychology department attends and is usually very willing to arrange rides. Plus, you can include on your resume that you are a member of that academic association.
  • Location: Often conferences will vary from one year to the next, but you can look on their websites to identify where they will be held in the future.

What conferences do students and professors in psychology go to?