Presenting your research more widely

Within the research community there are two main forms of presenting research (i) via publication in journals (ii) presentation at a conference, generally with an accompanying short paper in the conference proceedings. 

Going to a conference is a work-related activity. Attending allows you to see new, relevant research, meet others working in the same area, network through listening to others and asking them questions afterwards, and there are also opportunities for more social activities as well.

Depending on your funding and progress, you can expect to attend one national and one international conference during your PhD study. Going to a conference is more rewarding if you are presenting at that conference as this will allow you the greatest chance of speaking in front of those most interested in your work.

The cost of attending a conference can be substantial: air-fares, registration, hotels, food. However, many conferences and organisations can help with some or all of those outgoings. This support comes from three sources:

(1)    College Funds

(2)    The Conference Organisers

(3)    Learned or Professional bodies


When thinking of attending a conference check on the conference website to see if there is any ‘conference’, ‘student’ or ‘early career’ support. This may allow registration fees to be waived or reduced. In other cases support towards the cost of flight and/or the accommodation costs can be obtained. If the website does not have this explicitly mentioned, you should feel free to contact the conference organisers regarding such support. Applying for funding normally requires a letter of support from your supervisor and/or some documentary evidence that you are a student or recent graduate.

There are many professional bodies which normally provide support to their members to attend conferences. Think about joining the appropriate professional body when starting your PhD. Such bodies include: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry, Society for Chemical Industry and the various Engineering Institutes. In addition the Worshipful Companies and Guilds may offer support to non-members if the research being presented falls within their area of interest. While all these bodies give support, in general the onus is on you to approach them, look at the websites, contact people and ask. The Institute of Physics, for example, distributes its travel funds via its ‘subject area groups’ such a Plasma Physics, Physics in the Food Industry etc. Awards can be up to several hundred pounds.

Obtaining travel and conference support is useful for your research as (i) there are more funds to allow travel to other conferences (ii) the saving on conference attendance may allow for more investment in materials and resources for your research group or your project. In many cases, asking for funds to travel to conference is the first, formal grant application than many researchers submit, so this also acts as a training activity.

The Imperial College Trust and The City and Guilds Association Trust may also offer travel funding. Speak to your Department PGR Administrator as to what travel provision is available within the Department and, if applicable, through your scholarship.

With all conference travel please note the College Travel Insurance protocols