Conference question


Hey guys,

There is a really big conference coming up at the end of this month- i think i will attend because after a two year break from my studies i know it is important for me to 'network' and get the ball rolling so to speak. And my supervisor suggested it, which normally translates as 'you better come along'

It has been a long while since i have been in such an environment and am really nervous. I just wanted to ask, at these type of events is it ok to just be an 'observer'. By that I mean, will there be other people there who are not presenting any paper but are just there to observe and listen?. Does attendance always mean participation?

it would be my worst nightmare if i turned up and i was expected to say something...i did email my supervisor to make sure but he has not got back.

sorry if this is a silly question.


Of course it's not silly Angie.

The conference business would dry up pretty soon if the only people attending were the ones presenting. The idea of a conference is to communicate ideas to the wider community in the field it addresses so it would be expected that there would be lots of attendees who were not also presenting. Observing and listening is fine. It can be good experience to attend a conference as an observer before you attend one as a presenter.


I've gone to a couple of local conferences as an observer - they were highly relevant to my field. I think it's a great idea and I would do it more if only I could afford it. I usually feel I have to present at least a poster just to justify the expense.


I take every opportunity to go as an observer! It makes me more motivated to want to be a presenter. I've actually had whole conferences paid for by the society who is organising it (but never where I have presented!!) where I have only been an observer so they obviously encourage it!!!



thanks guys for your encouraging messages- was really worried before i posted this thread as my research is still in the developing stages and i dont want the academics to ask complex questions about it just yet!