I’ve been debating lately whether I want to submit any more conference proposals, and more specifically whether I want to adapt my dissertation into a conference proposal for submission next month.  In doing so, I’ve been thinking about the purpose of the two different forms.

Conference proposals (and resulting presentations) serve a number of purposes.

  • They allow a researcher to get their work out to an audience, in some ways more quickly than through journals
  • They offer a great networking opportunity at which you can meet others interested in the same topic
  • They get a new researcher exposure and name recognition with the established leaders in the field
  • You can get some feedback on an early draft of a paper and refine it before submitting to a journal
At the same time, conference proposals take time to prepare, and even when they are peer reviewed they are not considered anywhere near as prestigious as a published article.  That includes even presentations at some of the biggest conferences.  (I have a pile of presentations at the premier conference in my field, but they don’t equal up to even one co-authored paper in a mid-tier journal.)
In contrast, a journal article is more prestigious but also generally a longer process.  (Not always, but we just got an acceptance on one that is approaching three years since we submitted it.  Article’s can take a long time.)

My current thinking is that my summer would be better spent writing up my work for a journal, not crafting a proposal.  However one thing on my to-do list is to research missing data methodologies and apply them to my data in order to allow me to draw some conclusions on the really different questions I was trying to answer.  (The conclusion in my dissertation was that I can’t answer them because once the missing data is removed the sample is no longer representative.)A friend suggested that I could get a lot of mileage out of submitting the proposal with a discussion of the intended change for missing data techniques written up.  It would both be interesting and different, as well as ensuring that I actually did the work.  I can write a good proposal.  (Heck, the very 1st one I did my 1st year of graduate school was accepted and upgraded from a poster to a presentation.)  But would I be better off just charging forward?

I haven’t decided yet.  I have to admit that conference proposals are good ego boosts, in that so far most of mine have been accepted.  It feels good to get that positive reinforcement back, and far more quickly than a journal would get back to me.  But is it a waste of time when I have a pile of other presentations under my belt?  Can I do both without delaying either?