Writing for academic conferences

‘Tis the season to be writing…. As a business academic, the first academic term is incredibly busy, not only with orientations, teaching and administration as well as the routine research focus, but mainly because the deadlines for the submission of papers to many conferences in 2014 is in early January.

‘If you snooze, you lose…’ If you are unprepared, have nothing written to submit before that deadline, you lose out on participating in many of the quality international conferences of the academic calendar (for instance Academy of International Business (AIB), Academy of Management (AOM), European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS), European Academy of Management (Euram)…). Not only do you miss out on presenting your current research interests in a forum of academics with whom you have an academic conversation (i.e. are working on research in an area similar to your own), you miss the social and intellectual stimulation of listening and experiencing contemporary academic musings, reflections and research. You miss the opportunity to represent your academic institution in a national or international forum, bringing prestige to your university or college in expanding its international reach – no small feat for academics from a very small country.

Given the positives, it is not only writing the conference paper (which should be different for every conference you hope to participate in), but it is in ensuring how the paper will have the best chances of being accepted in the specific conference track/stream you are targeting. That’s right – just submitting a paper before the deadline does not guarantee acceptance. Indeed for the conferences I tend to target, waiting to hear back on whether the paper has been successful and accepted or not, can nearly be as stressful as waiting to hear back if a journal article submission has been well received.

I personally did not attend any academic conference over the 2012-13 academic year, having attended 3 (or was it 4?) the previous year. I found the time I had spent preparing the papers, preparing the presentations, sorting the logistics of flights booking, hotels, trains etc etc ate into any time I had to focus on papers to submit for journal publication. And let’s face it – as an academic you can have hundreds of conference papers published in academic conference proceedings, but that doesn’t rate in terms of progression or promotion where the publication game matters. That is, how many journal articles you have published and in what quality journals is what is important…

However, I find that not having attended a conference in the past year, I have missed out on the social interaction, the making contacts, the establishment of potential collaborators and external examiners and reviewers. As an academic in a very small business school, with no other faculty member in my discipline, much of my writing and research is conducted in collaboration with international peers. And working with them via email and skype does get tiresome after a while, when meeting them face to face, if only once a year at such conferences, can bring on our research in leaps and bounds.

So, while many of you may be taking time off and enjoying the Christmas season, have a thought (:)) for those of us finishing conference papers in advance of sumbission deadlines. And for those of you, like me, hoping to attend conferences in 2014, what conferences are you attending? Any you would recommend?

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About Marian Crowley-Henry

Dr Marian Crowley-Henry is a lecturer in human resource management, international management and organisational behaviour/theory in the Department of Management at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. She is the programme director of the MSc HRM/HRD. Marian’s current research interests are in international human resource management, self initiated expatriation, migration, careers and identity, and supervises PhD research students in those areas.