This time of year many scholars are packing their bags and heading off for conferences around the world. It is an exciting time giving the chance to present research and meet old friends and make new ones. However, there are so many conferences out there now; how do you choose between them?
Universities are increasingly loathe to pay out huge amounts for conference attendance, so a big variable has to be cost. Is this a conference that represents good value for money? Do you get activities, interesting papers and free food packed in to your few days, or are you paying for the privilege of simply saying you have attended?
Another issue is the importance of the conference to your field. In the US there are several huge conferences in History with thousands of delegates at each. It is good to go to those occasionally, even if only to remind yourself why you prefer smaller, friendlier conferences!
‘Ms Mentor’: advice columnist on the Chronicle suggests that ‘prestige and visibility’ are two important criteria for conferences. Will you be able to expose your ideas to key movers and shakers in the field? Is the conference attached to or funded by important bodies in your area?
And finally, there are always the non-academic considerations: is the conference held somewhere you have always wanted to visit and does the programme allow time to explore? Is it easy to take a spouse and family with you if you want to?
I’m off to Plymouth this week to a conference on Transatlantic Exchanges: enjoy your conference trips, wherever you end up!