Conferences and Questions

Wednesday was the International Society for Applied Ethology‘s UK regional conference. We tend to do these every other year and it was my second regional conference.

I absolutely love this society. It’s incredibly friendly and supportive. In fact the worst questions at this conference were asked by me, as one of my friends pointed out the next morning. I may have been a little harsh in some respects, so I went and apologised to one speaker the next morning.

Regional conferences are often popular with student presenters who have finished a masters project, or are starting their PhDs, and want to present results to a friendly audience. There’s a ranking of published results: papers, obviously, are best. They are peer reviewed and, in theory, tell a complete story. Next comes international conferences. Most of these are peer reviewed, but you only present a short abstract so tell a less complete story. Regional conferences can be reviewed but sometimes aren’t and are generally more accepting of non-significant results and short projects.

I tend to use the ISAE regional conference as a sounding board. This year I spoke about an analysis I tried but had ultimately gone nowhere, and the conference before I reviewed the personality terminology in the literature. The really interesting thing about conferences is the negative results you hear. For example, one student presented a small study that found chronically ill dogs had no associated cortisol rise compared to healthy dogs. It could be an issue of statistical power, or that cortisol is not a biomarker of stress in the case of well-cared for and health-managed dogs. Either way, it sparked some discussion. Another talk which stuck out in my mind was one looking at the activity budget of captive elephants. I had no idea elephants were capable of ventral lying, but apparently so!

The only real complaint I have is that I was still nursing my terrible manflu, which has slowed my posting on this blog, my work, and had me coughing like a smoker for two weeks now.

Normal service shall resume . . .

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