Ph.D. students very often get indecisive whether they should or shouldn’t attend academic conferences. I am a great believer that in fact the more conferences they attend the more it will benefit them. But Ph.D. students usually fret about the fact that they do not have enough data to show at the presentation. They worry that they need to have some real concrete presentable data to attend a conference. More often than not, it is actually the opposite. Ph.D. students are always encouraged to attend conferences even if they just have if they have just the hypothesis and some preliminary data. Do not postpone attending these events at the end of your Ph.D. Start your practice as soon as possible. Try to make the best presentation that you can and it does not have to be perfect. It is a great opportunity to present to peers and other senior researchers in your field. First, you could start by attending and presenting at national conferences and from there on you could go to other major international events in your field.
These conferences and seminars are important for networking, which is a key skill to getting a job in academia. Even if it comes across as surprising it is true. The key reason to attend an academic conference is to get experience. You learn about what other researchers in your field are working on. You keep yourself abreast of the latest discovery in your field of work.
When you present your work at conferences you become aware of your weaknesses. You can benefit immensely from constructive feedback, which may give new insight on doing experiments differently. It is also a got way to improve the robustness of your research work before submission to a top journal or publication. Academic conferences also offer you the platform to find new research collaborations. As you meet new researchers in your field you may ask them questions about your area of mutual interest. By observing keynote presenters you get a sense of how they present their work, and how they navigate the question and answer session etc. Conferences are overall a learning experience.
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