Scientific conferences during Covid-19

In a previous article ”Academic institutions in the time of Covid-19: Homeworking and productivity” we looked at how Covid-19 has changed the way academic researchers work and collaborate. Several universities are navigating the ‘new normal’, cautiously re-opening buildings under stringent protocols, prioritising scientific laboratories and departments involved in Covid-19 research, re-introducing library collection services and planning teaching activities for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

 

Academic conferences during the pandemic

 

Conferences have been deeply affected by coronavirus since early spring 2020. As it became apparent that Covid-19 was hard to contain and spreading at an alarming rate in many countries, alternatives had to be found to keep the crucial exchange of information between researchers going.

As public gatherings were discouraged or banned worldwide in an attempt to contain the virus, the cancellations and postponement of scientific conferences dealt a heavy blow to many scholars, who would have spent months preparing their presentations.

It has been particularly damaging for early-career researchers who need exposure for their research and networking opportunities to further their careers. Cancelled conferences also impact the diffusion of the latest scientific findings and discussions among scholars that could lead to new developments and future collaborations.

When not postponed, scientific conferences, symposia and workshops have gradually become virtual thanks to communication platforms that were previously used by the corporate sector to sell products and services (webinars) or to run virtual trade shows (fully-automated event platforms).

Advances in technology have allowed online platforms to mimic physical meetings. Besides the advantage of continuing scholastic conversations and ensuring the diffusion of research findings, there have been other bonuses, such as increased inclusivity – think disabled scientists, researchers who have travel restrictions due to family commitments or lack of funds to attend conferences, typically in resource-poor universities.
Another positive aspect has been cutting the carbon footprint of researchers while reaching a wider audience. If talks are recorded, participants can also watch on demand, while virtual breakout rooms might provide networking opportunities among scholars and the possibility to discuss research questions.

 

Conference proceedings and event management system

 

In some universities, conferences have been cancelled as a physical event and transformed into chapter books and special issues of journals, with the presenters being asked to provide a longer text of their original contributions.
For conferences being digitised or postponed, conference proceedings are still an important component. These papers are usually peer reviewed by the conference committee, usually through single or double-bind review.
Many conferences prefer to have their proceedings published before the conference; others like to publish them after the event so authors can update their papers with new insights gleaned during the conference.
In some scientific fields, authors favour proceedings over journals because proceedings help them to diffuse their research faster at a global level. Serving on conference committees, reviewing the papers and publishing proceedings also offer great career benefits for scientists. In some cases, conference organisers do not publish proceedings and the onus is on authors to find outlets to diffuse their research.

 

How Sciendo can help conference committees/organisers and authors

 

Sciendo offers tailored conference services, including digital hosting platforms with partner organisations. Specifically, Cvent covers conference planning and budgeting, event marketing and website, online attendee registration via a secure payment process, onsite check-in, badging, conference programme management and attendee tracking, and many other functions.

Conference proceedings in the English language are published online in the Open Access model, allowing a wider access to research findings. Print-on-demand copies can be ordered if preferred.

A range of publishing packages is offered to cater for your institutional budgets and needs, utilising the cutting-edge platform that maximises digital search/discovery by creating links to linkable references within your proceedings. Editorial, typesetting, proofreading assistance and marketing activities are offered in tailored packages and as added services.

Publishing is only part of the process to ensure conference proceedings are visible and findable in the very crowded worldwide web. Sciendo cooperates with Clarivate Analytics, Scopus, PubMed, Medline, citation indexes or discovery services by forwarding metadata and abstracts of conference proceedings.

To browse Sciendo’s published conference proceedings in a wide variety of fields free of charge, just visit this page.