There are many types of academic gatherings, listed here are a few commonly used terms to describe them:
Conference is a large official meeting, usually lasting over a few days with a formal agenda, at which people come together to discuss their views on a topic. Conferences often feature keynote presentations as well as break-out sessions.
Congress would typically be held at regular intervals (for example annually or every two years), often featuring a series of invited talks or keynotes.
Meeting is often used interchangeably with Conference or Congress.
Symposium is a smaller conference, often featuring more narrow topics than a Conference, Congress or Meeting, usually runs over one day with multiple expert speakers.
Summit is often considered a meeting of decision-makers, where experts may be invited to contribute to the topic.
Seminar is a lecture or presentation with discussion delivered to a small audience on a particular topic or set of topics that are educational in nature.
Forum aims to encourage discussion and sharing of ideas, often in round-table format.
Workshop is similar to Seminar, but with an emphasis on “hands-on-practice” or laboratory work, where participants expect to practice new skills under an expert instructor.
Why attend conferences
Attending conferences is an excellent way to:
Stay up to date with research in your field
Network with your peers
Build or improve collaborations
Receive immediate feedback on your work
Possibility to reflect on your own research/study
Gain experience in presenting your research
Position yourself as an expert
Promote your coming or existing publications (referencing them in your slides)