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Techniques & Tools Micro/Nano-scale

Meeting Expectations

Graphic of Sign saying Hindsight

Earlier this year, Jeff Chapman and James Landers, co-chairs of the 29th International Symposium on MicroScale Bioseparations (MSB2013), set out a six-point plan to maximize the value of their conference (see The event took place in March, and we’ve gone back to see whether it succeeded. Here, Jeff Chapman responds to questions.

What was the overall impact of the new format?

Our intent was to provide an engaging dialogue on frontier science in microscale bioseparations. From the delegate comments we received, it was very successful. I believe the new format has helped rejuvenate this meeting, it provided a unique forum to facilitate deep discussion.

What were the major plus points?

I’ll mention three. First, expanded discussions. Researchers come to a meeting to discuss science, but all too often the Q&A periods are shortened. By building in extra time and fostering communication of expectations between the speakers and chairs, all authors were provided with good feedback, as well as stimulating novel ideas for future exploration. Delegates were quick to jump in, and I think most scientists felt they really had an opportunity to discuss their work.

Second, the confidentiality provisions that we implemented helped create an environment of openness.  Most scientists were comfortable about bringing their unpublished work into the dialogue.

Third, speaker diversity and quality. Each session chair was given the responsibility of selecting abstracts to populate their session using a double-blind process from a peer-reviewed pool. We introduced an expanded two-page abstract with data and figures, which allowed the reviewers to assess novelty and quality. The net result was a series of new and interesting lectures, one quarter of which came from students – highlighting that it’s not who you are but rather the quality of the abstract you submit that will get you a speaking spot in our conference. 

Were there any lessons learned the hard way?

In future, we need to start the planning much earlier. With only a ten-month window, we did not have adequate time to introduce the new meeting format to enough people.

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About the Author
Rich Whitworth

Rich Whitworth completed his studies in medical biochemistry at the University of Leicester, UK, in 1998. To cut a long story short, he escaped to Tokyo to spend five years working for the largest English language publisher in Japan. "Carving out a career in the megalopolis that is Tokyo changed my outlook forever. When seeing life through such a kaleidoscopic lens, it's hard not to get truly caught up in the moment." On returning to the UK, after a few false starts with grey, corporate publishers, Rich was snapped up by Texere Publishing, where he spearheaded the editorial development of The Analytical Scientist. "I feel honored to be part of the close-knit team that forged The Analytical Scientist – we've created a very fresh and forward-thinking publication." Rich is now also Content Director of Texere Publishing, the company behind The Analytical Scientist.

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