Academic Conference

What is an academic conference?

According to Wikipedia, an academic conference or symposium is a conference for researchers (not necessarily academics) to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals, conferences provide an important channel for exchange of information between researchers.  

Basically, it’s a meeting to present your work! 

What are the different kinds of conferences and examples?

  • Local conferences: e.g., UBC Conferences, The F-Word Conferences held by GRSJ, Arts Undergraduate Conferences,   Multi-Disciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference…
  • Regional conferences: e.g.,  PSA (Pacific Sociological Associations)
  • National conferences: e.g., CSA (Canadian Sociological Association) ASA (American Sociological    Association) ISA (International Sociological Association)
You should definitely apply to the LOCAL conferences because they are organized particularly for YOU! PSA is also super supportive for undergraduate students! 

What are the different roles in a conference?

  • Presenters:
    • who present their work in regular sessions for research in progress or formal papers, such as faculty, professional sociologists, graduate students.
    • who present their work in round tables or poster sessions, including undergraduate students.
  • Facilitators: who put together some topics and facilitate presentations on the topics
  • Attendees: who have fresh ideas in terms of research and excited to listen to presentations.
    You can attend conferences without presenting your research!

Different presentations and what you can expect:

Types Audience   What you can expect?

Can undergraduates present?

Powerpoint Presentation with formal papers or research in progress Senior faculties and professional sociologies
  • Critical challenge and less good feedback;
  • It sometimes can be aggressive;
  • Help you to improve your research!
Usually NO.

Round Tables

(You sit at the table with your presentations. People will sit around the table to listen to you)

Advanced scholars and peers
  • Constructive feedbacks and suggestion from professionals;
  • Supportive voice and developmental model;
  • Someone who enjoy hearing and carrying your ideas!  
  • Potential referrers and network within academia!


(You stand beside your poster. People will walk around in the exhibition hall and visit yours)

Advanced scholars and peers
  • Questions, feedbacks and suggestions  from the people who get attracted by your poster;
  • Supportive voice and developmental model.
  • Someone who is interested in exploring new ideas!
  • Potential referrers and network within academia!

Can I get financial support for going to the conference?

 YES! ! !

You can apply for different grants, such as:

  1. If you are going to PSA,
    1. PSA provides 50 Student Travel Grants of $125 to students who are presenting, have prepaid membership and registration, and then apply and are randomly selected from the pool of applicants.
    2. PSA offers 40 Registration Waivers each year for students who are not presenting their research.  Applications for waivers can be made on the PSA website in January/February, and recipients are randomly selected from the pool of applicants.

     2) UBC Sociology Student Association (grant application is available in the Spring)

     3) UBC Arts Undergraduate Society’s Student Conference Grants

Student Conference Grants (50% of total costs up to a maximum of $500) are intended to facilitate opportunities for extracurricular, enhanced learning for students enrolled in the Faculty of Arts by offsetting financial hardships or funding shortfalls precluding participation in conferences, colloquia or, fora.

To apply, download the Student Conference Grant Application Form.
Please email VP Finance Mateuz Miadlikowski at or Grants Coordinator Felix Wong at if you have any questions or concerns.

Why conference?

  • Potential network that can connect to your future supervisor and professors who are also interested in the same topics
  • Practice your presentation skills in an academic environment
  • Get insightful feedback and suggestion that can advance your research
  • Learn so much from other scholars and keynote speakers’ presentations, such as, how to do research
  • Get more involved with academics and the unspoken curriculum of how to be an academic through participation, observation, communication, and internalization

The thing you must do in a conference?

Always TALK to more people!

More helpful resources will be updated through UBC Sociology blog SOON!

 Hope to see you in the upcoming conferences! 

by Siqi Xiao