May 2022 Calendar

An exciting month ahead! This May, we are organising our first ever research methods conference, Hive Virtual Conference 2022 on the 9th and 10th of May. Read on for more details on this and other events! Hive Events/Activities Hive Virtual Conference 2022 The Sussex Research Hive Scholars is pleased to announce our virtual doctoral conference on inclusion, accessibility and solidarity through methods, taking place on the 9th and 10th … Continue reading May 2022 Calendar

Attending your first conference



A decision to send your paper through and present it at your first ever conference can be overwhelming! You have the right to feel like that, and do not ever think that you are the only one here- the truth is that we are all on the same boat and have felt or will feel challenged by the thought of presenting in front of strangers at some point in our academic life.

I started very early and presented at my first conference three days after submitting my MA thesis. It may sound impressive, but truth be told it was an absolute nightmare. You can imagine how well one can prepare within three days of celebrating/moving/travelling to another country for a conference. Not very well… at all. Unfortunately, the following conferences did not go much better. In my early 20s I got into a very unhealthy habit of ‘collecting’ conferences- applying to all and going to all. For some reason I thought it would look good on my CV, and perhaps it did, but I would never want to go through the hell of presenting ill-defined ideas in front of professional academics nor would I want to recommend that approach to any of you.

Instead, I have a list of tips I wish I could have been given before my first conference, which remain things I tell myself every time I go to a conference:

  1. Choose wisely #1- know your needs: Just for the record- there are plenty of different kinds of conferences: small, quality-driven ones, hands-on ‘let’s discuss’ workshops, invite-only symposia, and take-all, huge conferences etc. It is worth deciding what kind would serve your needs best at different stages of your work- are you looking to improve your project and need some comments and criticism? Do you need colleagues to apply for a grant/networking? Want to share your project with as many people as possible?
  2. Choose wisely #2- know your limitations: There is only as much material and original ideas you can produce within a specific time. You don’t have to present in order to attend a conference. It is absolutely fine to go just to learn, observe, take part in Q&As if you don’t feel that you are ready or your paper is at a presentable stage.
  3. Don’t produce fake abstracts that sound legit just to get in. See point #2.
  4. Prepare well, so you feel as confident as possible. Start working on the presentation as early as possible, even if you are to spend 15 mins daily, and give yourself at least one day to learn your paper. I also recommend making a list of things that you will need to take with you: pen drive, notes, charger…
  5. You might want to schedule a mock presentation and read/present it to another human being 🙂
  6. Once at the conference, enter with openness and positive energy. Instead of worrying that you don’t know anyone or might not be included by the crowd, try to approach other people and include them the way you would like to be included. Remember that most people in the room feel exactly the way you do- stressed and self-conscious. Same goes for the panels- look at people and be attentive when they present the way you appreciate being listened to.
  7. Try to make the most of your time at the conference- approach people you want to talk to and try to come up with a question for each presentation.
  8. It’s ok to leave if you feel tired and overwhelmed. Don’t be too hard on yourself- conferences tend to be exhausting. Sometimes it’s worth taking a morning/evening/couple of hours off to be able to come back reinvigorated.
  9. It’s also ok to be criticized. It is not personal and don’t take it as such. Think of critique as a natural and much needed part of your conference experience- it is one of the reasons you are there for. Remember that no academic and non-academic project is perfect and people who offer their suggestions and critique want to help you, not attack you.

Continue reading “Attending your first conference”

Dubious conferences put the ‘pose’ in ‘symposium’ by Adam Ruben

’tis the season to submit abstracts…tra la la…

Given conferences are on the horizon and abstract submissions are likely to be on many doctoral minds, the next few days we are going to re-post some insightful blogs related to conferences.  The first is a re-post of a blog by Dr Adam Ruben, a scientist, comedian and writer… enjoy! Continue reading “Dubious conferences put the ‘pose’ in ‘symposium’ by Adam Ruben”

GUEST POST: The Five Stages of Conference Rejection

by Shima Jalal Kamali

If not every, at least half the student population has faced some form of rejection during their studies. As a PhD student that level is tripled the normal amount. In addition to dealing with constant criticism about your work, dealing with student markings and feedback, and just life, there is also the added bonus of conference abstracts and yep you guessed it rejections. Continue reading “GUEST POST: The Five Stages of Conference Rejection”

Conferences: why, when and how to apply.

One of the first things that struck me when I started my PhD was how many times I heard my colleagues talking about this and/or that conference. I thought there was some kind of aura around these academics presenting their work around the world, and who are actually paid to travel around and discuss their research interests. Now, that I write it down: what a great job we will all have one day (hopefully)! Continue reading “Conferences: why, when and how to apply.”

Academic events: big and small (a Hive Scholar’s experience)

Academic events’ styles can vary enormously. From huge conferences – involving hundreds of presentations – to small, specialised workshops, where you can expect deep engagement with your work.

I think most of my colleagues prefer small workshops. In fact, after spending months or even years writing a text, it can be very disappointing to present it in a big conference. Being a PhD researcher, chances are that most of the people in such events are not really interested in your work. To be honest, very few people in the audience will have read your paper. In a big conference, if your fellow panellists take the time to read your stuff, you can consider yourself lucky. Continue reading “Academic events: big and small (a Hive Scholar’s experience)”