Since there is a lot of conference talk going around I'll share some thoughts that me and my IRL people have been contemplating. The question being which science conferences are on your schedule and why? How do you pick what to put in the rotation? The conferences at which you learn the most? The ones that cover areas you are most familiar with? How many conferences is enough? etc. I'm not totally happy with my rotation as it is. I've been trying to add one more conference to my 'usually go' list. Here are things as they currently stand.
SfN I only put in the rotation a few years ago as my research has slowly meandered into areas for which SfN is useful. For me the conference is still mostly about learning areas I don't really know much about. Despite this fact that I have somehow gotten talks. On the other hand it is not the conference for 'my people' and I usually don't run into many researchers that I read. Status: Maybe.
Tiny sub-field conference. One of the main ones for me and "my people". I think I've only missed it once. I alluded to earlier, it is a small, somewhat insular conference that has delusions of staying that may despite growing demand. That creates some friction. High relevance at this conference, but the size means not much is actually presented and the chances of giving a symposium are very low. Status: Yes for now.
Medium society conference. The other main one for my people. Perhaps not quite as high on the relevance scale since it is broader. However since it is about 5 times the size there's much more being presented and a better chance at getting to participate. Status: Yes.
Medium interdisciplinary conference. Somehow this is a good conference. This conference has high proportion of things that seem interesting that I will probably never use (or cite). Status: Yes, apparently.
Some other neuro conference. I can't go to two neuro conferences every year, this one seems that it might be more focused towards areas that I am familiar with. Status: Maybe
Giant society conferences #1, #2. Never been to either. People I know who have reported back generally give them a meh. Not sure that the problem is. Too broad? Too many things my people aren't really interested in? Funny thing some of these big society conferences, they don't really hold together well. Breadth can be nice. You may learn something new. It may also feel like there are just multiple conferences running concurrently. Status: Probably not.
Old society conference. Again, never been and when I ask around the consensus is that only grey beards and people working on things last popular 40 years ago went. Ouch. That's a tough rep to have. Maybe it's exaggerated, but I can't imagine it's random. Status: Definitely not.
Ok that's a lot. I was thinking 4 conferences would be plenty for regular attendance, with a mix of focused sub-field and broad conferences. That seems like a good approach?