Conference pairs like minds

January 6, 2011

Vinicius Licks identifies four essentials to get the world talking about Brazilian academics' ideas ("Don't always follow the crowd", 9 December). But a fifth one is missing. Junior and senior academics need to be funded to present papers on their latest research for publication at specialised international conferences, ideally at least once a year.

The meeting can be quite small. It should not be a monster congress unless there is a clearly identified track of sessions on the specialism. If the three or 23 other people in the world working on those particular issues have heard you talk, they are much more likely to look for your name on publications, cite your work, discuss collaborations, send or host postdoctoral students, and so on. One year Brazil might host the conference.

The full funding of international conference costs has been a key strategy in the relative success of British academic research.

David Booth, University of Birmingham.

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