Academic conferences are a vital part of the life of any researcher. Attending gives you an insight into the very latest developments in your field, and the opportunity to network with colleagues. Presenting allows you to share your work with peers, and raises your profile.
But what happens when it’s time to organise a conference of your own?
Every academic is time-poor. Use these six handpicked tools help manage your academic conference workload, and deliver an outstanding conference.
This free directory of academic conferences works brilliantly for organisers and attendees alike.
It hosts calls for papers, allows you to see other events and their schedules, and makes your own conference easily found once you’re up and running.
This task management beast is a real heavyweight, but its simple interface and focus on visuals makes it very easy to use.
Trello allows you to create a series of project pinboards, to make tracking, sharing and collaborating on a big conference practical – especially when you aren’t all planning from a single location. Set multiple tasks within a project, and assign deadlines and checklists to keep an eye on progress.
If you’re looking for something simple and lightweight to keep track of ideas on the fly, Drafts is perfect. Billed as a Swiss Army Knife for text, it allows you to capture any passing thought easily and instantly – and then connect it to a range of other services. You can instantly share your words with a chosen group, plan a tweet or send your files to Dropbox.
Android integration is a little behind the Apple version, so for dictation and a few other bells and whistles you’ll need to be using iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
Fed up with juggling poor photos of receipts for expenses? Need to share a document with annotations, but you only have a hard copy?
Camscanner turns your phone or tablet into a scanner. Instantly send hi-res PDFs, with the option to watermark and annotate by hand. There’s even a handy character-recognition process built in which ‘reads’ images of text as words, making it possible to edit the files later.
This time-scheduling multi-purpose app isn’t designed for academic conferences. But it is designed for busy people with a lot to achieve, and that’s you.
Essentially a goal tracker, the charm of Beeminder is its flexibility and integration across platforms. It allows you to set a range of different goals across a chosen time period: writing a certain number of words, completing a list of small tasks, even achieving fitness goals like walking or running. It’s all gathered in a pleasing visual ‘yellow brick road’ to show progress and keep you motivated. It also talks very happily to Trello, Drafts, Gmail, Twitter and a host of other services. If you’d like to keep control of all the balls you’re juggling alongside your conference planning, this is a great place to start.
An academic events manager
Project management tools and productivity apps are great – but nothing can truly replace the expertise of an individual with experience in the field.
Take the pressure off, and dovetail your own extensive knowledge with the skills of an academic events manager. They’ll handle the practical side of your event: the things that can’t be neglected but probably don’t interest you, like cleaning and event registration. You can choose how much support you need, from a bespoke website to your own conference app. They’ll also maintain control of the timeline of tasks, from abstracts to print materials, accommodation bookings to catering.
Find out more about the academic conference support available at the University of Birmingham.