Research Conferences: Social Interaction and Educational Experience

April 14, 2018 was the opening day of the annual American Association of Cancer Research Conference. Every year, over 20,000 members of the cancer research community meet to discuss, brainstorm, synthesize, and network, with the common goal of improving treatment for cancer patients. Throughout four days of intense mingling, new cell imaging technology was introduced that could improve tumor imaging resolution. Checkpoint therapies that help unleash the immune system on tumors were highlighted as promising new treatment options. These powerful new technologies put on display during the summit instilled new confidence in patients nationwide.

Conferences such as the AACR annual meeting, provide a significant opportunity for scientists to advance their own careers. Specifically, researchers are able to share their most recent findings and promote their work to other respected scientists. This is a very effective form of peer review, and it also allows researchers to enhance their own reputations. The more well-known and respected scientists become, the more likely they are to be invited to give presentations, get cited by other researchers, or gain funds. These conferences are also a chance for researchers to develop collaborations or brainstorm new research directions. Combining the efforts of leading researchers can foster the development of groundbreaking new techniques or ideas.

Similarly, these conferences are a great chance for scientists to learn from each other by interacting and communicating face-to-face. By attending conferences, scientists can stay informed with the most recent discoveries. This helps elevate and maintain the current knowledge level among researchers. Moreover, presenting to other researchers refines public speaking skills and teaches scientists how to communicate their work to others.

Throughout the duration of a conference, various exhibits and product demonstrations put the newest technology on display. Scientists can learn about and possibly get hands-on experience with different instruments that will help improve efficiency or the data quality of their research. Conferences are just as much an educational experience as they are a chance for career advancement.

Beyond the benefits scientists directly receive for attending conferences, these colloquiums of advanced knowledge help our society by promoting a better understanding of momentous scientific topics and the weight they carry. However, the career and educational opportunities for scientists are just part of the conferences and trade show puzzle. After all, scientists are also consumers, while vendors and suppliers are a large part of most scientific conferences.

Our next article in this series will explain why these organized events are so critical for vendors and suppliers, and will talk about some strategies for how they can engage the scientific community and out-maneuver their competitors on the exhibition floor. Additionally, we will give a more in-depth look at one of our newest upcoming reports: Conference & Exhibit Strategies in Life Sciences: What’s Working Now.