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  • 1 a : a meeting of two or more persons for discussing matters of common concern
b : a usually formal interchange of views : consultation
c : a meeting of members of the two branches of a legislature to adjust differences
d : caucus
b : a territorial division of a religious denomination
For lessons on the topic of Conferences, follow this link.


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

Generally, work is presented in the form of short, concise presentations lasting about 10 to 30 minutes, usually including discussion. The work may be bundled in written form as academic papers and published as the conference proceedings. Often there are one or more keynote speakers (usually scholars of some standing), presenting a lecture that lasts an hour or so, and which is likely to be advertised before the conference. Panel discussions, round tables on various issues, workshops may be part of the conference, the latter ones particularly if the conference is related to the performing arts.

Prospective presenters are usually asked to submit a short abstract of their presentation, which will be reviewed before the presentation is accepted for the meeting. Some disciplines require presenters to submit a paper of about 6–15 pages, which is peer reviewed by members of the program committee or referees chosen by them.

In some disciplines, such as English and other languages, it is common for presenters to read from a prepared script. In other disciplines such as the sciences, presenters usually base their talk around a visual presentation that displays key figures and research results.

A large meeting will usually be called a conference, while a smaller is termed a workshop. They might be single track or multiple track, where the former has only one session at a time, while a multiple track meeting has several parallel sessions with speakers in separate rooms speaking at the same time.

Depending on the theme of the conference, social or entertainment activities may also be offered; if it’s a large enough conference, academic publishers may set up displays offering books at a discount. At larger conferences, business meetings for learned societies or interest groups might also take place.

Academic conferences fall into three categories:

  • the themed conference, small conferences organized around a particular topic;
  • the general conference, a conference with a wider focus, with sessions on a wide variety of topics. These conferences are often organized by regional, national, or international learned societies, and held annually or on some other regular basis.
  • the professional conference, large conferences not limited to academics, but with academically-related issues