AALBORG UNIVERSITY

PHD THESIS BY THOMAS TRØST HANSEN: THE IMPACTS OF ACADEMIC EVENTS – CYCLES OF CREDIBILITY AS AN ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK


This PhD dissertation explores the impact of academic events such as congresses, conferences, symposia, and meetings. More specifically, the focus is on the academic impact for individual attendees and chairs.

Academic events such as congresses, conferences, symposia and meetings are part and parcel of most academic careers. Endless hours are spent for both attendees and chairs on travelling, logistics, socialising and many other activities not directly related to core tasks such as teaching, research and knowledge dissemination.

Despite the entrenched nature, and the general wave of evaluation on institutions within higher education, there is hardly a language for describing the impact of academic events. This is not only a problem for academia itself, but also for the meetings industry, which need to understand how they are part of a system of knowledge production and utilization. Based on qualitative interview, a typology of academic events is presented, and their impact is analysed using the concept of cycles of credibility. Focus is both on attendees and chairs of academic events.

The project has been carried out under the Industrial PhD programme. Besides funding Innovation Fund Denmark, the project has been developed and financed in collaboration with Wonderful Copenhagen, VisitAarhus, Humanomics Research Centre and Tourism Research Unit at Aalborg University.

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‘Groundbreaking’ thesis outlines benefits of academic meetings


A ‘groundbreaking’ Phd study into the academic benefits of attending and hosting meetings has been published by convention bureau Wonderful Copenhagen.

From ancient history to ecology, it is estimated that around 300,000 academic events are held every year around the world, engaging millions of individual scholars.

Until now, however, very little research had been carried out into how delegates might benefit from attended these events, in terms of professional advancement.

Now a 148-page PhD dissertation – called the Impact of Academic Events – by Thomas Trøst Hansen, has identified the 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 network, buzz, recognition and much more. To stay in the metaphor of marketplaces, one can do online shopping, but if one wants 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.

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, (above left) Director of Conventions at Wonderful Copenhagen.

Published Date: 12/06/2020