ISCB-SC:pubs:10rules brainstorming

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ISCB-SC:pubs:10rules brainstorming


Before the Conference

  • Choose an appealing theme/topic
    • general scientific topic but focus on a particular question that students are interested in eg. academia vs. science, future of the field, etc. or pick a particular scientific topic that is just emerging (see BioSysBio)
    • regular annual conference typically run by large societies???
    • make decision whether you want a general conference or an event that focusses on a particular topic - make sure you have a sufficiently wide range of topics in the former case
  • Choose the right date and location
    • either long before or after other major conferences in the field or as part of a major conference
    • teaming up with a larger event will save the delegates a lot of money
    • Locations should be easy accessible (train and plane, also local public transport)
    • budget accommodation should be within reasonable distance.
    • choose a place where attendees can make of it a holiday


  • Create a balanced timetable
    • Allow a significant proportion of the timetable to submitted, reviewed and accepted material
    • Give ample time for socialising during the conference
      • allows people to meet their peers
      • colloborations
    • confirm keynote speakers very early
      • they are busy so the book out quickly
      • having the names of keynote speakers helps to promote the event
    • mix top senior scientists in the field and young PIs
    • find a good mix and people that are committed to the student community
    • Young PIs can give good insight into what it takes to get faculty or postdoc positions
    • Top senior scientists usually have a great overview of the field and can comment on developments that are to be expected in the future and how current topics fit into the bigger picture
    • big names makes your conference more attractive
    • Surveys of your target audience can tell you what are the most suitable speakers
    • Panel discussions where keynotes show they personal side are most inspiring to young researchers
    • include social activities and time for networking
  • Select carefully your key helpers: the organising committee
    • Wide set of skills required
      • website and printed materials
      • reviewers from a wide range of areas
      • finances and fundraising
      • organization
      • marketing
      • evaluation
      • managing/organisational skills
      • local organization
    • should be large enough to handle all aspects but not too large
    • try to avoid having free loaders on your committees
    • involve local organizations by inviting a speaker from the local community
    • involve local organizations by inviting representatives from local companies (you might want to offer one spot for an industry talk as a means to raise money)
    • will help to give easier access to venues, local organizing team/volunteers, etc
    • Sponsors from the local area might be easier to target
    • local organizations could take over administrative tasks (registration, find accommodation)
    • give credit where credit is due: recognize contributions by sponsors, speakers, OC, PC, etc.
  • Allow plenty of planning time
    • 9 months to a year because:
      • Submission deadlines need to be considered
      • production deadlines as well
      • confirming invited speakers and other aspects of the agenda
      • spreading the word (ie. marketing)
      • fundraising
    • give enough time for people to get their visas and book their travel in advance for cheaper fares and accommodation
    • get better rates on venues


  • Study all potential financial issues affecting the event
    • approach sponsors early
    • make clear how they will benefit
    • find best matching spnsors to your audience
    • even of this timee your approached sponsor does not support your event, keep the contact for the future
    • make an estimate of you cost for conference venue, meals,
    • make an estimate of how many people you expect
    • set registration fee appropriately
    • fellowships for people who could otherwise not come
    • awards for outstanding contributions
    • allow publication of abstracts in a journal, etc.

During the Conference

  • Meet everyone from the OC the day before the event
    • inspect the facilities
    • discuss responsibilities if you haven't done so before
      • contact point
      • registration (this needs to happen earlier i guess)
      • speaker liaison
  • Have contact information for all relevant 3rd party people
      • caterers
      • building manager
      • main conference organizer if you are having your event as part of another conference

After the Conference

  • Wrap-up all information aspects that may have a lasting impact in your community
    • particularly important if you are planning to have a similar event in the future
    • make evaluation publicly accessible
    • submit abstracts to journal
    • upload photos of the event to the website (videos too, if you have any!)
    • post names of winners of awards and travel fellowships on the website'
    • make an evaluation to improve the focus (if desired) of the conference
    • identify issues that you were not aware of - i.e. what people didn't like
  • Send one last email
    • to all delegates informing them about the things that have happened since the conference
    • include announcements for the next event if you are planning one
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