I’ve just received an email from F1000 which got me thinking about something I’ve considered in the past. I won’t go into the details of the email, as these are private communications, but it reinforced my idea that this project could actually work.
I’m not sure that this hasn’t been done before, but to my knowledge, and in the context of my limited number of international meetings, I’ve yet to see it. Anyway, if this has already been implemented somewhere, I'll appreciate your thoughts and comments, so we can start using it at our meetings here in Chile.
My idea is to include in the conference book (the one that includes all the abstracts and is given to all the attendees), “Organizer’s picks”, which highlight a few posters of the ones that will be presented at the meeting. I consider this to be a useful addition to the book.
The way I think this could be done, is as follows: abstracts are sent as part of the normal application process, but authors could also include a slightly lengthier summary (with a limited number of words), describing in a little more detail the context of the research, the results and its implications. Both this “author summary” and the abstract, are reviewed by a panel of scientists involved in the meeting (i.e the organizers) and select a few they consider particularly interesting under a particular criteria, like “broadness of interest”, “significant technical advance” or whatever. This picks are then included in the conference book under “Organizer’s picks” or selections. Shall the writing of the author summary or its reviewing be considered as “too much work”, then the reviewing could be done based solely on the regular abstract.
I remember that the RNA Society Meeting has something similar, in which “selected talks” are scheduled on the first day, to start off the meeting. I’ve always considered this to be a fascinating idea.
While discussing this idea in my lab, someone argued that this may immediately unveil the potential winners of the “best poster presentation”, which may be considered a bad thing, as it takes the surprise away and may be discouraging for some presenters.
I argue that some posters may look good in “paper”, but are not nearly as exciting once you go see it and talk to the presenter (which is something conference organizers must do in order to award the prize). On the other hand, some posters may have a “low profile” abstract but may be particularly interesting, to the degree of being among the candidates to win the award. So, being included in the organizer’s selection does not necessarily guarantee that one of those posters will be awarded the prize. Further, the categories can be selected in a way such that they don't highlight the "best poster", but can be something along the lines of "broadness of interest”, “innovative technique”, etc, as I mentioned before, which won't get in the way of the aforementioned award.
Anyway, this is just an idea and I welcome your input, so tell me what you think, suggest ideas on how to improve it or express your concerns about its applicability.
[Image credit: Association of College & Research Libraries]