recorderIn past decades, the warmer weather used to signify the height of conference season – although these days it seems to pretty much run all year round – especially with many organizations holding their annual meetings in the winter in a warm and inviting location. And some just choosing to host them in the winter in a not-so-warm location (my specialty college has decided on Minneapolis for our typical winter meeting this year! Although they’ve at least brought it forward to October, instead of the usual December!)
Anyway, if you’re a medical writer and are considering conference reporting for the first time, you’ll need to take some kind of recording device with you.
What Choices Do I Have?

Digital Voice Recorder: The good news is that, nowadays, you have heaps of choices when it comes to a recording device. Everyone is different when it comes to recording devices and what they prefer to use. Digital recorders also come in all shapes and sizes – from pocket-sized ones like mine, to huge things with their own cages and wheels! I like using my Olympus recorder (that’s mine in the photo), it’s small and light, simple, reliable, and works well for me – plus, I’m a creature of habit, and it’s what I’ve always used! But, what works great for me may not suit you. But if you’re thinking of an actual device and don’t know where to start, you may be interested in this this Top 10 Review that I came across recently.
Unless you have specific additional needs for your recorder, you don’t need to spend a whole load of money on it – I’ve had mine for many years, and I think it cost me around $90 – it runs at about $120 these days. A few things to consider when deciding on one:

  • The USB connection (mine has a USB port that folds out of the device – no need for a USB cord)

  • Size (you’re going to be using it like an extra appendage at the conference – you’ll like it better if it’s small and light, and easy to kick into action if you’re late running into a presentation)

  • Storage

  • Battery life

Smartpens: I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about these Livescribe Pulse Smartpens. Personally, I’ve never even tried using one, but they seem intriguing and I’ve come across a lot of folk who love theirs. Unless you’re someone who likes risking buying gadgets anyway, it might be worth doing some detective work yourself before investing in one of these. See if any of your medical writer friends have one you could try – if you have a AMWA local chapter (or other networking) meeting coming up, ask if someone might bring their pen with them so you can test it out during the evening.

Smartphones & Tablets: At the very least, there’s a high chance you own some kind of smart phone or tablet, allowing you access to either a built-in recorder and/or the use of some kind of downloadable app for recording purposes. Your laptop may also serve a similar purpose with its built-in recorder. So they’ll also be options you can consider, although they likely won’t be as good as an actual digital recorder – but some folk use them as their primary recording source, so you may find this a great option for you.