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Researcher Development

Researcher Development


Conferences often have packed schedules, which can feel especially overwhelming if it is your first conference. Look through the schedule for your upcoming conference, if it is available. Highlight the talks and other events, such as workshops, that you would like to attend, and the people you would like to meet. Download this template and create your own schedule based on what you have highlighted.

This presentation outlines steps to take before the conference to help you prepare, reduce stress, and make it easier to enjoy the experience.

You can also download a transcript of this presentation.

You can also download a transcript of this presentation.

Further Resources

You will meet lots of new people at the conference, which is a great chance to network. Thinking in advance about how you will introduce yourself will help you feel more prepared on the day.

Dr Kirsty Nash offers nine tips on attending your first conference in this blog post for the Thesis Whisperer, including preparing a four-point introduction: who you are, your institution, your research project, and why your work is important.

Activity 1

Prepare your own four-point introduction including:

– Your name

– Your institution (your affiliated university and any partner organisations)

– Your project (summary of your research project or area of study)

– Why your research matters (your contribution to the field or your aims for your project)

Activity 2

An email signature is customised text that appears automatically at the bottom of emails that you send. It is a convenient but professional way to provide more information about yourself, and is therefore useful if you plan to contact other speakers before or after the conference. Use the example below as a template, or have a look at the signatures of other academics or PhD students for inspiration.

Details that you might want to include:

– your institutional affiliation(s)
– any positions you hold (e.g. tutor, editor, student rep)
– any relevant awards or qualifications
– memberships of academic societies/associations
– a link to an academic profile, if you have one
– links to social media

You can follow this step-by-step guide, if you are using Outlook.

Example email signature:

You can also download a version of this email signature in Outlook.

The idea of networking can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Academic conferences are great opportunities to establish friendships as well as professional relationships, as they bring together people from different universities, disciplines, and, often, countries. 

In this clip, Postgraduate Researchers Asma Char, Mengya Zhao, and Nicolle Sturdevant talk about their experiences of networking at conferences. 

You can also download a transcript of this recording

You can also download a text version of this image.

Further Resources
  • Dr Christopher Huggins (University of Aberdeen): Presentation for doctoral students on networking and social media.
  • Dr Inger Mewburn (aka the Thesis Whisperer): Advice on Tweeting at conferences and a cheat sheet for decoding Twitter lingo.

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