Sometimes I really ought to read the fine print on conference abstract submissions before I get all excited about submitting my research and committing to going to one. I found a new conference I haven't yet been to yet. What worries me is that I have to register for the conference up front - which costs about $400. I can pay by credit card, which is fine, but what if my abstract doesn't get accepted?
I have no interest in paying to go to the conference, any conference, really, if I'm not going to be able to add a line to my CV - the one immediate benefit from presenting research at one. They don't say that they refund conference registrations if your abstract isn't accepted, so I'm inclined to pass on it.
The thing is, I won't be reimbursed for the conference registration, hotel, food, and flights to the conference, which could easily add up to about $2000. So I have to figure the cost-benefit ratio of going. Am I going to receive $2000 benefit from it? Even if I am accepted, which I am certainly not guaranteed to be, I would have to stand a good chance of meeting people with whom I can post-doc with or who know of good academic positions or field research opportunities.
But I'm not even sure that's the direction I want to go. Field research is expensive; there are few grants or paid post-docs to compensate for the equipment, food, shelter, and special medical insurance needed for 3-9 months in a tropical location, let alone the thousands of dollars it costs to get to and away from the remote field research sites. Plus, it just doesn't fit with my life goals right now.
I could easily say the same thing about a post-doc. I don't really want to move all the way across the country again for a position that pays less than what we bring in right now in income. Sure, I could look at it as a temporary set back to our standard of living, and that after the post-doc is done, I will be in a better position for tenurable position and more money than we bring in now. But that's not guaranteed - not at all.
The conference is in a pleasant location and the line up of symposia speakers is exciting. It could be a great place to meet, mingle, and network with the right kind of people - that is, if I want to steer toward animal research and away from human psychology.
The icing on the cake? They don't allow you to hook up your own laptop for presentations. They want you to format it on a PC, put it on a disk, and present on a PC they provide. That's all fine, really if you don't mind using PCs, but for me that means the extra hassle of putting my presentation together only to have to go to the computer lab on campus, find one that has PowerPoint , and reformat it on a PC. That's an hour right there for no good reason at all.