Scientific conferences are a peculiar throwback to XIX century, when bearded white men in wool suits were meeting in ale houses to discuss the latest experiment they did at home – once. In our time of instant communication and telepresence, conferences are obsolete and I’ll tell you why.
1. The main reason not to go is that you won’t be able to do experiments while traveling and during the conference.
Who needs time and space to think and rest? Free travel, meals and accommodations are vastly overrated. If you want to see a new city or even country, looking up some pictures on the Internet is so much better.
2. Even before the conference, you have to prepare an abstract, a poster and book train or flights.
It’s not like you need training in formulating your ideas in an abstract and organizing your results in a poster. A talk requires preparation as well; you probably had enough talks already in the internal seminars.
3. Booking your travel and accommodations will take valuable time, better used on Facebook and Instagram. If you need a visa, multiply the inconvenience by a hundred.
4. These days people rarely present absolutely new data during conferences. You have read all their papers and have a clear picture of your topic and all overlapping fields anyway.
5. Standing near your poster may be the loneliest experience in your life, even with a bottle of beer for company. A popular poster, on the other hand, means saying the same things over and over and answering stupid questions.
6. Ditto your presentation, with added unpleasantry of malfunctioning presentation equipment.
7. Conferences consist mainly of schmoozing, which you don’t like: if you liked meeting new people and making collaborations, you would have become a management consultant, right?
And even if there are almost always jobs advertised during conferences, you know that your brilliance will shine through your e-mail application so brightly that it will get through hundreds of other applications. You will meet face-to-face with your future boss during an interview. Talking to a panel of several people is so much better than meeting in an informal situation with him.
In summary, don’t go to a conference, you will have the lab to yourself while everybody else is gone.