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Participating in PhD Academic Conferences

Completing a PhD is time consuming and hard work, especially if you have taken on a part-time job or tutoring duties to help fund your studies. You might, therefore, balk at taking on any additional academic commitments such as participating in academic conferences. There are, however, good reasons why you should jump at the opportunity, not just to attend conferences, but to present your own work.

To begin with, attending conferences is a crucial part of networking, both with your fellow PhD students and with more established academics or industry professionals. Attending the right conferences can help you make valuable contacts, including the possibility of meeting your future external examiner. A good presentation may leave an impression on the external examiner that he or she will carry into the assessment of your thesis and you may also be able to gain useful insights into the way your external examiner thinks, which in turn can help you anticipate future viva questions.

Beyond simply attending conferences you should also seek to present your work. This will help you improve your presentational skills, an important transferable skill that will impress future employers. Crucially, it will also give you the opportunity to rehearse your arguments and get feedback on them before you have to present them in earnest in the final PhD examination. Giving a presentation, like publishing a paper, will also help to establish your academic territory and provide something to talk about in the breaks between sessions, making networking easier.

If you are nervous about presenting at large academic conferences, there are conferences specifically for PhD students that will provide you with a more gentle introduction. Alternatively, you can practice presenting your work to your department or faculty. However, my experience of conferences is that most audiences are supportive of PhD candidates and will generally try to make your presentation go as well as possible. If you require help to prepare for a conference, our experts at the PhD consultancy provide a wide range of support services to meet your needs.


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