Moving conferences online: lessons learned from an international virtual meeting

Paris V. Stefanoudis*, Leann M. Biancani, Sergio Cambronero-Solano, Malcolm R. Clark, Jonathan T. Copley, Erin Easton, Franziska Elmer, Steven H. D. Haddock, Santiago Herrera, Ilysa S. Iglesias, Andrea M. Quattrini, Julia Sigwart, Chris Yesson, Adrian G. Glover

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

We consider the opportunities and challenges associated with organizing a conference online, using a case study of a medium-sized (approx. 400 participants) international conference held virtually in August 2020. In addition, we present quantifiable evidence of the participants' experience using the results from an online post-conference questionnaire. Although the virtual meeting was not able to replicate the in-person experience in some aspects (e.g. less engagement between participants) the overwhelming majority of respondents found the meeting an enjoyable experience and would join similar events again. Notably, there was a strong desire for future in-person meetings to have at least some online component. Online attendance by lower-income researchers was higher compared with a past, similar-themed in-person meeting held in a high-income nation, but comparable to one held in an upper-middle-income nation. This indicates that online conferences are not a panacea for diversity and inclusivity, and that holding in-person meetings in developing economies can be at least as effective. Given that it is now relatively easy to stream contents of meetings online using low-cost methods, there are clear benefits in making all presented content accessible online, as well as organizing online networking events for those unable to attend in person.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20211769
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Volume288
Issue number1961
Early online date20 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Biological science practices
  • virtual meeting
  • logistics
  • early career
  • inclusivity
  • online accessible
  • questionnaire

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