Inner habour bridge and the The Royal Danish Playhouse

What’s in it for the academic community? New Copenhagen PhD study identifies academic benefits of chairing and attending events

6/12/2020Marie Dyhr
Photo: Terry Mclaughlin

Every year, up to 300,000 academic events are held globally, engaging millions of scholars. Yet, limited knowledge exists about the professional outcomes. A new PhD study from Wonderful Copenhagen presents unique insight into the academic benefits of attending and chairing a congress.

Moving away from merely looking at the financial benefits of hosting an academic event, the PhD dissertation by Thomas Trøst Hansen explores the academic impact for individual attendees and chairs.

The first of its kind, the PhD study identifies specific benefits that academics can reap by hosting or attending an academic event. These benefits include the three concepts of Buzz, Network and Recognition.

While Buzz gives researchers access to informal information that is key to being at the forefront of developments within their field, Network involves increasing visibility and developing scientific collaboration. Recognition refers to exchanges that are essential for functioning in the current academic system and is the end purpose of chairing and attending. 

“Academic events are marketplaces where researchers meet to engage in a wide range of exchanges. It is a key arena for exchanges related to Buzz, Network and Recognition, and much more. To stay in the metaphor of marketplaces, you can do online shopping, but if you want access to the best bargains, you need to be physically present. This is especially true for research collaboration that depends and thrive on trust,” explains Thomas Trøst Hansen.  

Academic events are a central mechanism for the development of the academic community. It is estimated that scientific associations organised approximately 12,000 international meetings in 2016. In addition to this, an unknown number of meetings organised by university departments, individual research groups, private enterprises, academic journals, funding bodies, and others contribute to the maintenance of the extensive meeting practice in academia.

Yet, according to the study, few people in the academic sector have realised the potential of hosting academic events; it is up to the global meetings industry to make them aware of the benefits and opportunities. However, for the industry to do so it needs to follow trends in academia and science policy closely to know where it can be of service to the academic sector.

By sharing the key findings of the PhD study, Wonderful Copenhagen hopes it can help CVBs gain a better understanding of key business partners and the potential of improving the value proposition offered to local researchers.

“This unique study has identified some clear benefits to the academic community. We hope it will encourage and inspire academia, associations, and Convention Bureaus around the world to better understand and communicate the beyond-tourism-effects of international congresses. Being able to actually identify a broader impact of academic events is ground-breaking and should lead not only to an even closer collaboration between academia and Convention Bureaus but also to better evaluation of congresses,” says Kit Lykketoft, Director of Conventions at Wonderful Copenhagen.

The PhD project is made in collaboration with Aalborg University Copenhagen and was funded as part of the Danish Industrial PhD Programme in collaboration with Wonderful Copenhagen and VisitAarhus.

Find the PhD thesis here.