Why should PhD students bother to attend conferences?

Being part of the SOCRATES network, I have noticed that the prerequisites for obtaining doctoral degree differ significantly between institutions. For instance, in the University of Leicester (UK) PhD candidate required to produce a solid piece of writing (around 150-200 pages long) and then go through an oral examination, “viva voce”, in front of board of professors. In contrast, to obtain D.Sc. (Tech.) degree from Aalto University (Finland) one just needs to have published a number of peer-reviewed articles and write kind of “executive summary” of the research project rarely exceeding 60-90 pages in length. This work is then presented in public defense, which follows century-long traditions of the university. But real “hardcore” happens in TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Germany) – future Dr.-Ing. must write a proper full-size dissertation, then pass both closed-doors questioning “Rigorosum” by examination board and public defense of their thesis!

Source: www.phdcomics.com

Source: www.phdcomics.com (large image at the bottom of the article)

Although the requirements vary a lot and there is yet a possibility to graduate without having a single scientific article, most of the professors encourage their students to publish in peer-reviewed journals, even if it is not officially required for a degree. After all, number of publications and their citations seems to be the only measure of researcher’s merit nowadays. However, participation in academic events – conferences, symposiums, thematic meetings etc. – is considered inferior in the hierarchy of scientific achievements and thus often ignored.

Nonetheless, the rewards of attending a conference definitely worth giving it a try. Heading to a conference you can be sure that majority of the people there will have interests like yours (well, at least professional ones). This gives you an opportunity to get valuable feedback and perhaps a fresh perspective on your research. What I have also learned from my own experience is that quality of the presentations varies a lot, but to be honest I wouldn’t expect to see any breakthrough ideas before they were submitted in a scientific journal. As a matter of fact, an academic conference is perfect place to draw some attention to your recently published or soon-to-be published work. An alternative option could be to show some findings that are too small for a proper article yet novel or curious enough to bring them up for a public discussion.


There are many reasons to attend a conference, ranging from a nice badge, free lunches to a chance to improve communication skills by getting to answer tricky questions from audience. Personally, I go to such events looking for a chance to network and make connections – in future that may benefit you in surprising way! And I sincerely advise any PhD student to attend at least one scientific event with presentation, either oral or poster – this may come in handy in preparations for their final examination.

In the end, here are few upcoming conferences at which you can meet some of SOCRATES fellows presenting their original research:

And of course, whole SOCRATES consortium will gather together in Espoo, Finland, on 5-6 November 2019 to communicate the outcomes of the project at 3rd International Process Metallurgy Symposium. Feel free to join us in the discussions!


Source: www.phdcomics.com

Source: www.phdcomics.com

About The Author

06 Ivan Korolev webMy name is Ivan, I am the ESR 6 and I am Russian mining engineer. As many of you may know, my homeland is pretty rich in natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, metal ores. I come from a small mining town in Siberia, so my choice of profession was of little surprise. My current research is devoted to the development of such process for selective electrowinning of valuable metals from complex solutions. I am delighted to have on my side the leading technology provider for metal industry, Outotec Oy, and enthusiastic result-driven research group of Hydrometallurgy and Corrosion from the Aalto University. Should you have further interest in my current research project or just want to have a discussion about current state of mining and metallurgical industry worldwide, feel free to drop me a line: korolev.ivan@inbox.ru


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