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What sort of conferences do you prefer to go to? Conferences that cover a range of topics or those that are specialized?

Range of topics (e.g. McMat07)
41% (13 votes)
Special subset of mechanics (e.g. Plasticity07)
22% (7 votes)
Whatever I can afford
22% (7 votes)
Only if invited to speak
6% (2 votes)
Conferences are a waste of time
9% (3 votes)
Total votes: 32
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Aaron Goh's picture

I would add: ~200 participants, max 3-4 parallel sessions, unpoliticised organisation (yes, I attended one where the session was completely dominated by a group, the head of the group was chair of session and other applications were rejected-?!)

As some of you may have noticed, the poll on your conference preferences is now closed.  There were 361 hits of the poll of which 32 were votes - approximately 1 vote for every 10 hits. This suggests that the login requirement may be acting as a barrier for conducting polls on iMechanica.

Though the statistical sample was small (not statistically significant given the 19000 hits per day?) the trend was for the most people to prefer general conferences.  I would like to know why such conferences are preferred.  Please comment.

Affordability and small conferences garnered the same number of votes.  These might be major issues but the sample size is too small to tell for sure.  A couple of voters only speak if invited - I assume these are senior professors.  There is clearly a need for many more such people on this forum.  Finally, a few voters also considered conferences a waste of their time.  I would like to know why.

Personally, I would prefer to go only to small conferences as Aaron suggested.  There are two reasons - such conferences are considerably cheaper than large ones and you can get to know the participants more intimately.  A case in point is the APS Conference on Shock Compression of Condensed Matter where I can get to talk to amazing people like Dennis Grady or Tim Wright without a thousand other people vying for their attention.

Large conferences (international conferences in particular) are typically held in expensive locations because small hotels/universities do not have the space to host them.  That increases the cost of registration and hotel costs.  If I go to one of these conferences that means I will not have the funds to go to several other conferences that I would like to.  I've been to several of these conferences where a respected speaker has spoken to a packed room before me and I have talked to an empty room.  That sort of thing completely nullifies the point of a conference (and I understand why some people feel that they are a waste of time).  On the other hand, one can get a lot of new ideas because of the diversity of speakers.

I am eager to hear your opinions on the matter and what can be done to make conferences more productive.


I wish i could attend more conferences but unfortunately i can't. So i choose only those which i can afford.

Conferences is always a perfect opportunity to exchange opinions and experience. I learn much from them.



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