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Seminars, symposia, meetings, conferences……….and…..science

Seminars, symposia, meetings, conferences

Nowadays it has become more of a fashion in academics to promote students for attending different seminars, symposia, and conferences in the name of ‘exposure to outside world’. A large number of these type of events are being organized throughout the world at different times of the year. All of them of course vary in their utility to the scientific world.

At first glance there seems to be nothing wrong in attending such scientific or other meetings, problem arises when it becomes a hobby. One must understand the difference between ‘attending’ and ‘participating’ in an event. Merely attending any event by sitting among the audience and getting a certificate of attendance can not contribute much to the professional development of any person. Actual participation refers to a person himself/herself presenting his/her own novel research findings at some national/international platform and gaining recognition by peers. Further ‘participation’ automatically serves the purpose of ‘attendance’, but it is not the vice-versa.

This article doesn’t raise question over utility of scientific seminars or conferences, but one must realize that time for going to such events (most of which will be outside one’s own city) has to be taken from one’s regular working days. Thus it becomes necessary to choose only relevant event(s) from among a plethora of them being organized throughout the year. Besides one must devote time for up-gradation of experimental skills by participation in workshops and training programmes. This is especially important for novice researchers/students to constantly gain hands-on-expertise in wet laboratory, than for senior scientists.

People often say that networking with peers is necessary for a successful career and that becomes possible by attending seminars or conferences. But one must accept that contact building and networking with peers is also possible by participating in training programmes or workshops. In addition people will approach you for developing contact, if they are impressed by your work done in laboratory, not when you are merely sitting in the audience. Many times people who are more keen on working in their laboratory and not on attending a large number of seminars, they are said to be unaware of science outside their lab, but it is not so, awareness regarding science in other parts of the world can simply be gained through journals available in institute’s library.

The fact should be appreciated that for a busy scientist always there is scarcity of time, and he can not afford to prefer seminars over experimental work. Many great scientists have said it in public that they are able to work at their best when they get long stretch of regular working days uninterrupted by any useless meetings or seminars. It is the duty of senior academicians and scientists to caution their students against developing a hobby of attending seminars and symposia. Yes, development of presentation skills is important, but that can be done by participating in a handful of events selected wisely on basis of their utility and relevance to one’s own research. If one will aim at getting recognition by working hard in laboratory for long periods, invitations for meetings, conferences, seminars, and symposia will automatically flood his office. Let real science not get lost among the plethora of meetings and seminars.
Published: 2009-08-14
Author: vijay kothari

About the author or the publisher
I am a microbiologist, acting as an Assistant Professor in Science with Nirma University. My current research is focused on natural products.

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