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The following covers the main points in the annual cycle of preparatory events.  Dates are, obviously, approximate and may need to be varied depending on the actual timing of the coming OR event.  The timings given here would be for a conference to be held in July.  It has been the practice in recent years to build extension dates into the planning for proposals.  Thus the CfP will call for submissions by a certain date but then, inevitably, a one or two week extension will be offered.  Behind the scenes planning proceeds on the basis of this later date.

 

October:  Conference website and social media

Ideally the conference website should be launched in October.  Social media provision should be made at the same time (identification of Twitter tag etc).

The website should clearly signpost the OR "Code of Conduct" (see Appendices) so that, in the unlikely case of it being invoked, someone "disciplined" cannot claim that they were unaware of the Code's existence.  At OR13, the Code was reproduced in the Conference Handbook; from OR2014 it appeared on the conference website as well as in the conference handbook.

The Code of Conduct references a page on the wiki which details the Code of Conduct subcommittee; this page should be checked and, if necessary, updated.  The Google Group for the subcommittee should also be checked for currency.

Start planning fund raising campaign - create sponsorship brochure (based on the template) and web pages. Identify potential sponsors based on existing lists and local opportunities.

November:  Scholarship details

Prior to the release of the CfP the Scholarships Subcommittee should decide how many scholarships to the year's OR will be offered so that a call for applications can accompany it.  An application form of some sort needs to be available.  (For OR2014 this was a web form as part of the conference website.  For OR2015 a Google form was trialled.)  An appropriate page of information will be needed on the conference website.  The deadline for applications should allow plenty of time for recipients to comp-lete arrangements for additional funding, to get any necessary visas and to make travel arrangements.

Late November/early December:  Call for Proposals

The CfP needs advertising widely and the OR Steering Committee maintain a directory of mailing lists that should be targeted.  Each year it should be checked prior to the CfP for defunct lists or potential new additions.  The directory is in the form of a table so that lists can be checked off as they are notified to prevent or minimise duplication. Effort should also be given to finding extra mailing lists that are relevant to any theme the conference might have; these should also be targeted.

The CfP, which should be developed by the Program Committee and approved by the Steering Committee, needs to contain

  • The dates and venue of the conference
  • The theme of the conference (if applicable) and a clear statement as to whether this applies to all submissions or is intended as a focus for some of them.
  • An invitation to submit either to the main conference or direct to a Interest Group proposals for papers, panels, posters, lightning talks, or workshops.  It should be made very clear that proposals not accepted for the main conference but clearly relevant to an Interest Group will automatically be passed on for consideration.
  • A clear indication of the form and "quality" of submission expected for each category (how many pages etc).  The Program Committee may feel it appropriate to offer optional templates for guidance in each of the categories.
  • The CfP should mention the Developer Challenge but this will be the subject of its own call in due course.  The CfP should encourage developers to submit to (particularly) posters, demos and 24/7s to present on recently completed work and works-in-progress.
  • Closing date for proposals (but see above - work on the basis that an extension will be offered).
  • The CfP should contain the name(s) of the Program Committee Chair(s) (perhaps as signatories).
  • The CfP should reference the Code of Conduct especially inasmuch as it applies to the content of presentations etc.

Encourage recipients to rebroadcast the call to lists that seem to have been neglected. Past CfPs are available elsewhere on this wiki and recent ones should be consulted.

Customized Interest Group-focused versions of the CfP should be sent by the UG Chairs to lists appropriate to those UG's likely audiences (e.g. Fedora, DSpace, Eprints community lists).

As an example, dates for the 2013 conference were:

  • 3 Dec 12 Call for Proposals
  • 22 Feb 13 Published deadline for submissions (actual deadline one week later)
  • 15 Mar 13 Deadline for reviewers to mark proposals

Note that Easter was the weekend of March 31st and allowance was made for vacations etc.

  • 12 Apr 13 Decisions sent out for main conference
  • 19 Apr 13 Decisions sent out for User Groups (this extra week to consider proposals passed on from the main conference
  • 8-12 Jul 13 Conference on PEI

It should be possible to provide the Program Committee with statistics from the previous year(s) and the number of submissions in each category (paper, poster, 24/7 etc) and the numbers ultimately accepted.

Late November/early December:  Registration open on the conference website.

In the past two registration fees have generally been offered - an "early bird" fee, with an associated deadline, and a higher fee for later bookings.

 The website booking process must use https.

The registration form should have a checkbox "I agree to be contacted about future OR conferences" - default setting "yes". Names and email addresses of registrants who marked "yes" will be forwarded to the Steering Committee after the conference to be added to the open-repositories Google group.

Although this has not yet been done (2013) it would be useful to have registrants indicate whether they plan to attend Interest Group sessions.  This would potentially help with catering and other arrangements for the IG day(s).

Late November/early December:  Begin sponsorship drive

Issue sponsorship invitations to identified parties

Early January:  Identify and invite keynote speakers

Potential keynote speakers should be identified and invited.  All groups (Steering, Main program, User Groups, Host Organizers) should be invited to suggest names.

In the past, the conference has paid travel and accommodation for keynote speakers. In 2013, an honorarium in place of reimbursement for actual travel expenses was offered as an option.

 

Early February:  Second CfP and identify reviewers

Second call for proposals.  This will be somewhat reworded from the original and it may be possible to add up-to-date information about keynote speakers etc.

Reviewers should be identified and invited for the incoming proposals.  The program and UG Chairs should be able to call on the previous year's list as a starting point, and all members of the Steering Committee should be invited to contribute.  In recent years, each proposal has been allocated three reviewers and each reviewer has been allocated no more than four proposals.  This has been the subject of discussion as some reviewers felt that they did not get an adequate "feel" for the relative quality of submissions.

 

Late February:  Final CfP reminder and extension

Shortly prior to the published deadline a final CfP should be sent out which also offers the planned-for deadline extension.

 

March/April:  Reviews and notifications

After the deadline, papers will need allocating to reviewers.

Immediately prior to the announcement of accepted papers it will be appropriate for the Program Committee and the Steering Committee to jointly consider any edge cases in the main conference - papers that have produced both enthusiastic and negative responses from their reviewers.

Following this process, notify authors of the decision on their paper - noting that papers unsuccessful in the main conference may have been passed forward to Interest Groups for consideration.

Notify authors of Interest Group decisions.

Arrange with successful workshop organisers how booking for their workshop will take place through the conference website and get appropriate details for the descriptive page.

 

April/May:  Conference timetable

Now that the decisions about content have been made, attention should be turned to fleshing out the detail of the conference timetable.  This should be posted on the website as soon as practicable.  Early information about the conference structure and content may be essential to potential attendees seeking funding from their institution.  A six week lead time or better is desirable.

Once the timetable is published, an email should be sent to the lists advertising the fact and encouraging people to register.  A similar email should be sent just before expiry of the "earlybird" booking fee.

If not already done, now is a good time to identify and recruit session chairs for the conference.

If it hasn't already been done, now would also be a good time to recruit developers for the Developer Challenge.  In 2013 this email also incorporated a section about the pre-conference workshops.

 

May/June:  Miscellaneous preparations

Most OR conferences in the past have provided a feedback form in the conference goody-bag.  Thought needs to go into creating the questionnaire and it would be good to involve the Steering Committee (or delegated member(s)) in this.  On occasion there has been a lack of continuity in the questions from year to year which has made comparisons of different conference arrangements difficult.  The SC will provide guidance on core questions that should be included in your survey to ensure that they can make good use of its findings.

Prepare inclusion of sponsorship materials in conference packs etc. Plan use of exhibition space. Answer questions from sponsors.

It is important that provision be made for collecting conference presentations in a digital form to add to the conference web site (and eventually, a repository of all OR presentations).  In the past, session Chairs have sometimes been asked to collect these from their group.  However it is done, an effort should be made to get as many as possible: they form a valuable resource.

The last several conferences have invited delegates to contribute their details to a shared social media site so that they can "meet" other delegates online before the event.  Now would be a good time to publicise this.

It has become a pattern that the Host Organising Chair for the next conference be given a short "advertising" slot in the final conference plenary.  Now would be a good time to invite this contribution so that (s)he is not taken by surprise later on.

 

During conference

Sponsorship announcements from conference organiser, relationship management - OR SC and Local Committee.

 

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3 Comments

  1. It may be useful to also identify milestones related to fund raising. A milestone related to documenting prior year success would be appropriate shortly after the close of a conference, as would be updating of information related to any SC members who have relationships with sponsors. Another milestone might simply flag the importance of starting fund raising early in the conference planning process. I see this as important insofar as industrial sponsors often plan their annual sponsorship activities and are not receptive to proposals that are made in close proximity to an event.

  2. It might be worth considering to be clearer about the paper submission guidelines and review criteria. There has been a variance over the years (and reviewers complain about quality) and it is an important decision what is the direction of travel is: do we want to be agile or leave a quality trace for future generation? There is not necessarily a "best of two worlds approach". There is also the question whether the submissions should be published and whether there is a process of improving the submissions (even if only 1 page) on the basis of the reviews.

  3. May add a paragraph "Post conference": survey, financial report, ...?