Scientific meeting

An academic conference or scientific conference (also a symposium, workshop, or meeting) is an event for researchers (not necessarily academics) to present and discuss their work.

A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different nations, constituent states, organizations or groups.

see Events.

It is ironic that doctors, for whom protecting health are a primary responsibility, contribute to global warming through unnecessary attendances at international conferences.

High quality medical education is essential for patient care, and the educational benefits of conference attendance must also be considered. But “let’s be honest, when did you last learn anything really important at a large meeting?”

Evidence that attending conference lectures improves practice is scant.

Annual scientific meetings serve as a forum for the dissemination of new research findings. The presentations of these meetings should be of high scientific quality because they have the potential to impact future research projects and current clinical practice. Moreover, the publication of these findings as full articles is extremely important to increase its dissemination. Unfortunately, while evaluating the publication rate of 307,028 abstracts presented in biomedical meetings, a systematic review reported that only 37.3% were further published, leaving a great number of studies restricted to the events.

Medical conferences: value for money? 1).

Student/trainee conferences are typically cheaper than professional conferences, but as they are not acknowledged in national scoring systems for medical and surgical training applications, they may have worse attendance than otherwise possible.

In a cross-sectional database review, 162 conferences were identified through a systematic search of two conference databases by three independent researchers. χ2 tests were used to compare scientific quality between student/trainee and professional conferences and the likelihood of offering different types of discounts. Independent t-tests were employed to determine cost differences between the two categories of conferences.

The data revealed that there was no significant difference between student/trainee and professional conference's likelihood of declaring information on their abstract review processes (p=0.105). There was no difference in speaker seniority, determined by the tool the authors developed (p=0.172). Student/trainee conferences were significantly more likely to offer workshops (p<0.0005) and were cheaper than professional conferences (p<0.0005).

These results show that student/trainee conferences offer a similar level of scientific quality to professional medical conferences in the UK at a fraction of the cost, which should be reflected within the national scoring systems 2).

The advantages of Web conferencing are multiple. It removes the need for long and expensive travels that take up a lot of time, and remove you from your family and practice. By avoiding cost for travel and stay, conferences (and therefore, knowledge) can be made accessible for a larger audience, especially in developing countries. By avoiding travel itself, assuming you do not travel by bike or sailboat, CO2 emission can be reduced too. Online conferencing also allows for a more flexible schedule: you may not be able to attend a conference abroad for that one surgery or appointment that cannot be postponed. In that case you may still be able to attend other lectures or sessions if you can follow them from your office or your home. It is perfectly possible to include checks whether you actually watched a video, which would allow for CME points as you would get during an on-site conference 3).

Six Tips for Getting the Most from Your Next Conference

1. Sit at the front during talks: Even if this is not your style (or especially if this is not your preference), this will help you feel more involved in the talk.

2. Take copious notes: Whether you need them or not, taking notes during presentations helps focus the mind.

3. Rate all speakers for content and presentation: This is a way to keep yourself alert as well as help yourself think critically about talks' content. For the best presentations, it will also give you notes about style or techniques to integrate into your next talk.

4. Break away: People tend to attend conferences with colleagues, co-workers, and friends - people they already know. But during talks and at meal times, try and sit with people you don't know. You are bound to learn something new, whether it is about work in your field, how other institutions function, or how different people approach questions relevant to your work.

5. Be excited about your science: If you're excited about your science, others will feed off of that excitement. Whether it is during a formal talk, a panel discussion, a poster session or just talking to people in the hallways, keep in mind that you are selling your science. Also remember that everyone is being bombarded with talks and research: the enthusiasm you muster will go a long way to getting peoples' attention.

6. Size matters: Small meetings often have a singlemindedness about a particular subject that can benefit all participants. There are likely to be fewer competing sessions at small meetings, and you can probably actually meet the speakers, instead of stand in line.

Brinjikji W. Beyond meet: The future of scientific meetings. Interv Neuroradiol. 2022 Oct;28(5):505-507. doi: 10.1177/15910199221125406. PMID: 36136365.

Swash M, Lees AJ. Medical conferences: value for money? J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2019 Apr;90(4):483-484. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2018-319248. Epub 2018 Oct 18. PubMed PMID: 30337441.
Sharp EW, Curlewis K, Clarke THS. Stop paying through the nose: student and trainee medical conferences offer better value for money than professional alternatives. Postgrad Med J. 2019 Nov;95(1129):577-582. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2019-136734. Epub 2019 Jul 24. PubMed PMID: 31341039.
Kubben PL. Online conferencing: Less CO(2), more effective? Surg Neurol Int. 2012;3:115. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.102322. Epub 2012 Oct 13. PubMed PMID: 23226602; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3512339.
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