400 tiered auditorium used by larger residential conferencesat auditorium

Five tasks you need to complete to run an academic conference


 1) Send out calls for papers from academics

An academic conference runs on great and educational content. Send out calls among your network of academics with dates and details of the conference, asking for paper submissions. Don’t be afraid to cast a wide net, you can always narrow down your choices later on.

2) Collate responses and put together an academic conference programme

Next, you’ll need to assign a committee to review the submitted papers. Look for common ground among the submitted topics and put different sessions together, along with people to chair these sessions, to support your keynote lectures. Now is the time to decide on whether or not you need your speakers to attend in person or whether you’re happy for them to present virtually.

3) Inviting keynote speakers and covering their costs (if appropriate)

Your budget and a number of other factors will determine whether or not you should invite a very high-profile keynote speaker and cover their costs. Eminent professors who are travelling a long way to attend the conference may expect some contribution or their entire costs covered, while local or less well-known academics may just be happy to be involved or may only incur small costs.

4) Budgeting

Budgeting from day one is crucial. Make sure that you set conference fees that cover all of your costs. You can then look at using any profits for further research, to fund bursaries, cover the expenses of speakers or for future projects.

5) Assign people to deal enquiries

Make sure you have somebody, either from your own organisation or institution, or from your chosen venue, to man a staff desk throughout your conference. This will involve giving out programmes, badges, welcome packs and other materials as well as managing poster sessions, signage and answering your delegates’ questions. Some venues, including Royal Holloway, offer hands-on conference assistants or conference management services for this purpose.