February 22, 2009

Trip triage

My travel schedule in both the near and far term is becoming abbreviated. In the short term, I am canceling two trips to Orlando I had planned for the next two weeks because I've had a cold this weekend and know my limits (or at least need to start behaving as if I know them). It's either that or shortchange other things that are higher priorities or that were commitments long before I had known of the Orlando events.

And then I am also going to scale back my professional conference travel for the next year or so, at least until I know what travel support is going to look like at my institution. I have a hard and fast commitment for one conference in October, but I may skip one of my favorite meetings because it's on the other side of the country.

I suspect a lot of academics are going to be looking at conference travel with a more jaundiced eye in the next year or two: institutions will either give no or much less travel assistance. In my case, since I'm a full professor, multiple conference presentations every year are less critical to my career, and I don't think it's ethical for me to grab resources in my college that should be there for assistant and associate professors. There are also a few pieces that I should turn from conference papers to article manuscripts to submit to journals.

There are some downstream consequences of this: lower conference attendance (as happened in fall 2001 and the next few quarters), and for huge conferences such as AERA, AHA, CEC, APA, etc., there may be a perverse incentive for the scholarly societies to increase their registration fees to make up for lower attendance... which may reduce attendance further and certainly put these meetings out of the reach of more new scholars.

Will "unconferences" or virtual conferences fill the gap? Probably not for new scholars, since the coin of the realm for scholarly meetings is the refereed (and high-visibility) national and international conference.

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Tags: budget, scholarly conferences, travel
Posted in The academic life on February 22, 2009 9:33 PM |