August 18, 2021, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

Strategies to get the most out of an online conference

Shun Chen reflects on attending an online conference with help from the Researcher Academy’s Online Conference Fund.

~ Shun Chen

At the beginning of this month, I attended the Summer Psychology Forum (SPF) 2021 organized by Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) with the support from the Researcher Academy’s Online Conferences Fund (OCF). SPF is an action-focused conference that aims to help attendees develop skills, form collaborations, and network with other scientists with common research interests. This year, the topic of the SPF was “Modeling and Analyzing the Dynamics of Motivation, Affect, and Social Interaction”. As a postgraduate researcher who studies personality traits, perception, social interaction, and social functioning, it was an unmissable opportunity for me to advance my modelling knowledge and skill, network with researchers worldwide, and develop (potential) collaborations.

The conference was an eye-opener about dynamic modelling. The workshops and poster sessions were all quite informative and valuable. All the sessions were recorded, and all the materials (slides, data, code, etc.) were provided. The attendees will have access to all the contents for three months after the end of the conference which is one of the advantages of online conference; I did not need to worry about missing anything from the sessions. Another advantage of online conferences, that I discovered from attending the SPF 2021, is that it facilitates academic networking more efficiently. Attendees were allowed to provide their personal and academic information on the platform. Attending this conference helped me to find people who have common research interests and inspired me to think about how to apply dynamic modelling in my research.

Here are some strategies I use to get the most out of attending (online) conferences:

Firstly, I ask myself a question: “what do I want to achieve from attending a conference?” Learning new strategies to approach my research? Establishing collaborations? Looking for job opportunities? For me, conferences are a good way to discover the latest techniques, get new research ideas, and meet people who work in my area.

Secondly, I select conferences based on how well the topics match what I am currently working on, or what I plan to work on in the future and who is the organizer. I tend to attend conferences that are organized by influential academic associations in my field.

Thirdly, I look for attendees who work on similar topics by browsing their profiles and I invite them to have conversations during coffee breaks. I try to introduce myself, summarize what I’ve been working on, and get to know them and their work, which might be a starting point for future collaborations. For me, online conference makes the process more convenient and easier to initiate.

Lastly, I do not take notes during the sessions but instead later when I watch the recordings of the sessions. It helps me to give my full attention to what the speakers are saying, relate the contents to my work, and think about productive questions to ask them.

Overall, I enjoyed attending the online conference. The virtual format did not diminish my conference experience, and in my opinion online conferences provide a convenient and efficient way for attendees to learn and network.

You can find out more about the Online Conference Fund here.

Posted in Placements