Symposium / Seminar / Conference / Workshop ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Faramir, Nov 5, 2008.

  1. Faramir Member

    Catalan, Spanish

    I have attended several scientific meetings that were labeled in a different way (congress, conference, forum, workshop, etc.), but I really didn't see any difference in the way they were held.

    What are the differences between these types of meetings: confeence, congress, symposium, seminar, workshop, etc.?

    Thank you!
  2. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    The answer is in your own experience, I think. People can label their activity as suits them.

    My take on these is:
    A workshop would usually be a relatively small / intimate event with some sense of involvement by all in creating something particular such as a new policy or a solution to an issue.

    A forum suggests some sort of discussion / talking point / learning from other people in the same field.

    Congress sounds grand and more academic than the other two, to me.

    Conference covers a multitude of types and fields.
  3. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I go to a lot of these kinds of meetings and I agree that the terminology is pretty confused and confusing. I don't think you can clearly distinguish between them. A symposium suggests that more than one person is speaking. A workshop has the sense of being a relatively small event with all parties involved in the discussion (although this is not always the case). A seminar is often one person giving perhaps an hour-long lecture, although there could be more than one speaker as well. A congress is usually pretty large. A conference is pretty general and in fact could mean something with thousands of participants or something with just a few participants. None of these are hard and fast rules though.
  4. Waterdash Senior Member

    English (US)
    I've never heard of a congress meeting, personally, but the other ones I have. From my recollection, a symposium and a seminar are different in that a symposium is like a public seminar. There are many types of seminars, so just saying seminar is pretty vague. A type of seminar would be a Socratic seminar. Yet, a seminar is primarily an open discussion of ideas, yet different types of seminars include other aspects. A conference, like kalamazoo said, is a pretty general term. It basically means a group of people who discuss different things. A workshop is usually a meeting/learning experience. I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think I defined each of these terms to the best of my ability.

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