Conference Attendance

Part of your training in becoming a researcher is attending academic meetings, such as conferences. Students attend conferences for several reasons.

  • Ideally, you would be presenting your work to others. This will give your work exposure (dissemination), and will also give you the opportunity to discuss your work with others.
  • If you are a 'new' student or if its a key conference, you may go just as an attendee. The experience will help you understand what happens at these conferences and what the current research topics are. it will also give you a chance to get to know peers in your broader academic community.

Decisions on conference attendance

If you want me to fund you to attend a conference, here are my rules of thumb.

  1. You need to ask me and justify your reasons for going. If you don't ask, you won't go.
  2. I need to have the budget available to send you. Conference attendance typically costs anywhere between $1500. - $3500 by the time flights, hotels, registration and food are taken into consideration
  3. Cases:
    • Students with accepted refereed full papers to good conferences, co-authored with Saul - I will normally always send you.
    • Students with accepted refereed full papers to good conferences, not co-authored with Saul - If the research to be published is based solely on work with (say) another professor, this will be done on a case by case basis (e.g., perhaps with cost-sharing with the other professor).
    • Students with minor papers (workshops, posters, short papers) are at my discretion; you should ask me well before submitting them.
    • Attendance at lower quality conferences and/or workshops is at my discretion. Ultimately, it should be a worthwhile event.
    • Students who do not have a paper in the conference should ask me. I do like to see students - especially new ones - attend at least one excellent conference early in their studentship. Again, this is at my discretion. As part of this, I may ask you to try to write up and submit a poster and/or workshop paper of your ongoing work; this.


I fully fund student travel, hotel and (within reason) food. However, I expect students to help defray costs as follows.

  • Serve as a student volunteer. Many conferences will reduce registration fees and hotel costs for volunteers. Its also a great way for you to meet with your peers.
  • Book reasonable plane tickets well in advance
  • Share a hotel room - hotels are one of the most expensive part of the bill; doubling up really makes a big difference. If no one else from Calgary is going, you may try to contact the broader community, e.g., students at other Cdn HCI labs.
  • Get early registration - which can save up to several hundred dollars
  • Eat well, but resonably - hotel / conference restaurants can be ridiculously expensive. On the other hand, if an event happens where (say) a bunch of folks are going out for a pricier dinner and its to your benefit to go with them, just do it. Given the cost of sending you there, the added cost of the occasional expensive meal is well worth it.
  • Take advantage of supplemental funding. The University has some graduate travel grants available. There may be other grants too. For example, this year, NECTAR will contribute to each student going to CHI. Apply for these in a timely fashion.


Students can stay longer than the conference dates. They can do so if schedules and other duties permit. However, extra costs must be covered by them.

Expense claims

  • Travel Advance. There are certain things you have to book in advance: flight, registration, and maybe even hotel. Given that this may be done months before the event, I recommend that students apply for a travel advance (ask our Admin Assistant) several weeks before your first bill. * Receipts. Collect receipts for everything. The university will not reimbure you otherwise.
  • Per diems.. The University does allow a food per-diem, although I would prefer you use receipts. Still, per diems are a good way to cover 'minor' meals without the hassle of collecting small receipts, such as breakfast and lunch. However, you cannot use your per diem for the meal if that meal is supplied by the conference.
  • Submitting the travel claim. Do this immediately after your return. Talk to our Admin Assistnat how to do this. You will need to include all your bills, and submit details on an online-form in PeopleSoft. It usually takes about 3 weeks to get re-imbursed if everything goes well.