Sunday, April 15, 2007

Conference types

When you go to sessions at academic conferences, after some sessions a discussant who has read the full papers provides a critique. Then there are Q&A. This tends to be my least favorite part of the session. The discussant frequently is good, but the questions are almost always not. The same few types of conference-goers reappear at every one - sometimes they are the same people! - saying the same things.
  • Dr. Cranky - "This work is a waste of time; it's not important to study X." Dr. Cranky may have come to the session just to tell participants this. Needless to say, X is a big field, but not one Dr. Cranky has done anything in.
  • Dr. MyWork - "I would like to know why you ignored the very important work done in the field by ... me."
  • Dr. LastMoment - He or she comes in the last five minutes, and then proceeds to ask the presenters a series of questions. "Sorry if this has been covered already, but what was your methodology? Did you consider Y? What was this session about?"
  • Dr. PassiveAggressive - I regret to say this one is always a woman faculty member. She learned growing up to be supportive and nice but then got to academia, where criticism is a necessary part of the grad school and peer review process. Her compromise is to be especially brutal but to couch it in uncertainties. "I guess that what I'm saying is just that your paradigm is totally wrong."
  • Dr. Everywhere - This person is at every session you are, which normally suggest that their acquaintance could be fruitful. But not when they do one of the above at every single session. When they stand up, everyone else averts their eyes and shifts in their seats.
  • Dr. Panel - Generally the people who talk the most are the paper-presenters and the discussant, but sometimes an audience member seems to think his or her exclusion from the program was an oversight. Rather than be offended, these types just go ahead and share their knowledge anyway.
  • The Grad Student - This one never talks, held tight in the grip of imposter syndrome.

1 comment:

coreybower said...

You forgot the other category of grad student. The "I may be a grad student, but I bet I can look smarter than the presenter" crowd.

I even heard one grad student constantly threaten to rip apart every presentation they attended.