Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


Maybe you are going to a conference, but you want to plan something extra so you can meet new colleagues or get some additional feedback on your work. Planning a side event at a conference such as a workshop, discussion panel, or side meeting can take a little work before the conference, but often gives big rewards. Here we give some tips on things to keep in mind when planning a side event.

Steps for organizing an APECS Panel

panel Victoria 09 copyOrganizing panels or workshops conferences are some of APECS's most frequent activities. They are a very useful way for early career researchers to gain career advice, share their research and to meet some great senior researchers and mentors. And the good thing about them: they are very easy to organize on a low budget!

Every APECS member can organize a panel / workshop at a conference and this guide will provide the organizers with step-by-step introduction on how to do it!

APECS panels / workshops aim to create fora where participants have the opportunity to meet established polar experts from various fields and other early career researchers, in order to draw inspiration and advice from their experience. This will create an informal venue for participants to make contacts and become actively involved in discussions throughout the conference and beyond.

So how do I get started? Some of the basic questions you have to ask yourself are:

  • Are the conference organizers interested in having an APECS panel / workshop?
  • What should be the topic of the panel / workshop?
  • How long should the panel / workshop be?
  • Where and when can the panel / workshop occur (time / room)?
  • Whom could I invite as panelists / speakers?
  • How do I advertise the panel / workshop?
  • Do I need to do fundraising?

So, what are the steps to organizing an APECS Panel / Workshop?

Sample Panel Outline

The session should start with an introduction to APECS by the APECS member organizing the event. We have a generic PowerPoint presentation for this but you don't need to make it that formal – a short summary touching on what APECS is, and what we do enough. Each mentor then introduces him or herself and gives a few pieces of career advice according to your panel topic. Then participants can ask the panelists questions and an open discussion occurs. Make sure there is enough time for questions (at least 30 minutes), and rather have a panelists less than one too many. To keep the panelists on topic and make it an interesting session, make sure to have some questions prepared beforehand. It can be helpful to lead off with a quick but insightful question (e.g. what do you wish you had know about _____ when you started your career?) to keep things on topic from the start. You can use the same questions for all panelists to get a different perspective, or different ones to avoid repetition. To use time effectively, make sure panellists know that not all of them have to answer every question, and as a moderator you should direct questions to particular panellists. It is also a nice idea to have some kind of thank-you gift for the panelists, e.g. Chocolates, APECS cups, etc.

Sample Emails

Here are some email drafts that you can use when planning your panel. Please note! These are just outlines, and should only be used as a guide to get you started- you should try to tailor your letter specifically to who you are sending it to, and what goals you aim to achieve by holding this panel.

Sample Questions for your Panel Discussion

Here are a few sample questions that you can use for your panel discussion. They of course depend on your topic. Do you have ideas for other questions that can be discussed at panels that you want to add to this list? Please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • What is the one piece of advice you wish you had heard at an earlier stage in your career?
  • What makes a strong application, besides a good publication record for academic positions?
  • How do I find out about opportunities and jobs outside the academic world?
  • Do you recommend approaching professors about postdoc (or other) positions even if they don't have any posted?
  • How do you go about finding a mentor who isn't your adviser?
  • If all of my training has been in academia (i.e. Through the Ph.D. process) how do I learn how to write a resume or cover letter for a non-academic job?
  • How do you know if you are over or under-qualified for a job?
  • Is it possible to have a research career with a Masters degree, or do you need a Ph.D.?
  • What do people look for in Polar scholarship applications and Polar science funding applications?
  • How do you put your involvement in Education and Outreach activities (school talks, news spots, radio interviews etc.) on your C.V.? How important are these activities to your funding and job applications?
  • How do you get in contact with the scientists who you consider leaders in your field when you've read their papers and you want to work with them?
  • How do you make contacts outside of your country or discipline if you're finding it hard to meet people with similar interests?
  • How do you start international collaborations in the field of Polar research?
  • Are there sources of funding for independent people (such as journalists and artists) to work in the Polar Regions?
  • How many postdoc positions is too many? To what extent should your postdoc be in a similar field to the specific field of your Ph.D. or should you try to diversify?
  • How many authors can you be down the author's list on a publication before you don't really count?
  • When making funding decisions, do people take into consideration people will get more publications out of a Ph.D. in some subject areas than others (i.e. that some fields are easier to publish in than others)?
  • What role do young/early career scientists play in shaping the future of Polar research?

Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research
Telegrafenberg A45
14473 Potsdam
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our Sponsors

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