A Theoretical Model for the Associative Nature of Conference Participation

PLoS One. 2016 Feb 9;11(2):e0148528. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148528. eCollection 2016.


Participation in conferences is an important part of every scientific career. Conferences provide an opportunity for a fast dissemination of latest results, discussion and exchange of ideas, and broadening of scientists' collaboration network. The decision to participate in a conference depends on several factors like the location, cost, popularity of keynote speakers, and the scientist's association with the community. Here we discuss and formulate the problem of discovering how a scientist's previous participation affects her/his future participations in the same conference series. We develop a stochastic model to examine scientists' participation patterns in conferences and compare our model with data from six conferences across various scientific fields and communities. Our model shows that the probability for a scientist to participate in a given conference series strongly depends on the balance between the number of participations and non-participations during his/her early connections with the community. An active participation in a conference series strengthens the scientist's association with that particular conference community and thus increases the probability of future participations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Congresses as Topic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Stochastic Processes

Grant support

This work was supported by ON171017, The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (http://www.mpn.gov.rs/: J.S. and M.M.D.); and 675121, The European Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm: M.M.D.).