Abstracts, abstracts and more abstracts is what 2016 seems to have been about so far. Every week I come across another interesting conference requiring me to submit an abstract in order to be able to present my research in the form of a poster or presentation.
As I have mentioned before one of the biggest benefits of doing a Marie Curie Fellowship is that you are provided with generous financial resources that are normally lacking during a PhD to attend interesting conferences where you are able to learn about the latest research in your field and network with some of the researchers you have been following while doing your research.
As I have been spending much of the early part of the new year sending out abstracts I figured I would use this blog post to discuss the positive and sometimes negative aspects of submitting abstracts to academic conferences as an early career researcher.
On a positive note you don’t necessarily need to have completed all of your data analysis when writing your abstract although it definitely makes the process more straightforward. At the moment I have only been able to collect a small portion of the data that I plan on using in my PhD but fortunately it is enough to put together some preliminary results which can be presented in the form of an abstract/poster. From what I have been reading on the PhD forums it is highly recommended that you base your abstract on the results that you have actually been able to gather rather then the results you expect/hope to have by the time you will present your research.
That brings me to one of the downsides of writing abstracts which is the fact that you need to write them months in advance of the conference that you will be presenting. So far I am finding that most of the conferences that I am submitting abstracts to or plan on submitting abstracts to require you to submit your abstract between 4-6 months before the start date of the conference. As a fulltime PhD researcher who is expected to finish their research over the course of a relatively short three-year period, having to submit an abstract six months before presenting your results can make you feel like you are being rushed to have results ready which might look much different/better if you just had 1-2 more months to work on them.
Another undesirable aspect of submitting abstracts which could be considered a ‘first-world’/Marie Curie Fellowship ‘problem’ is a result of the fact that many of the big academic conferences seem to be taking place during the same 3-4 month window (in my case between May-July). This would normally not be an issue for your typical PhD student as you would normally be considered lucky to have the opportunity to present at one such conference during this period. However, as I stated earlier as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher you are able to attend many conferences making it difficult to choose which ones to attend and which ones to skip. Again this is really a ‘first world’ problem but I sometimes wish that they were more spread out in order to be able to take full advantage of the benefits of doing a Marie Curie PhD.
So far I have only heard back about the outcome of one of my submissions from this year but at least the result was positive and I am now looking forward to preparing a poster for an upcoming conference in Budapest in May.
Well that’s all for now. Hopefully I will be able to do my future blog posts on some of the conferences I attend in the coming months.