February 11th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

The dilemmas of conferencing

Over the course of several years of graduate school, I've been to enough conferences to realize that it's often hard to tell which are the important ones, and what's important to do at any one of them.

For example, I know the American Historical Association is a Very Major and Important conference, yet I've never been. From all reports I've read, it's a conference large enough to drown in and swarmed by stressed-out interviewees. On the other hand, I'm a Medieval Congress (aka Kalamazoo) regular, enjoy it thoroughly, and run into people I know everywhere I go there. And it's a conference of 4000 people, often enough, which is hardly a small event as juniperus knows entirely too well.

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Conferences go on all the time in any given field. They constantly conflict with each other. Some are free, some are local, some involve transoceanic flights.

Short of previous experience, how do you tell what will be a good conference, one worth attending? What clues do you look for? How do you choose between two conflicting ones? Do you choose on the convenience of geography alone? Price? Do you only attend conference where you will be presenting a paper? Where you know a friend or relative in town you can crash with or at least visit?