[Coral-List] 10ICRS Registration etc

David Hopley dhopley at austarnet.com.au
Fri Feb 27 00:21:39 EST 2004

Dear Coral-list

As the chair of the Scientific Organising Committee of the Bali 2000
Symposium, I have been following the debate regarding paper acceptances,
registration etc for Okinawa with some interest.  I can understand the
frustration which some may have, but knowing the size of the task our
Japanese colleagues have undertaken would like to appeal for patience on
their behalf.  The ICRS is now a major function.  To see how it has grown
and the problems which ensue, have a look at Bernard Salvat’s plenary
address published in the Bali Proceedings.  In Townsville in 1988 there were
633 delegates, about 650 in Guam, 1200 in Panama and 1629 in Bali.  The
total budget is now well over US$1million and organisers and the ISRS must
ensure that they are not left with crippling financial liability by, for
example, guaranteeing that everyone will have the right to present orally or
leaving registration payment to the last minute.

One of the problems we had with Bali, and I can see is being experienced by
the Japanese committee, is that although the final dates for the various
registrations etc have been published for months, a surprisingly large
majority of our colleagues leave it to the last minute to do anything.  An
example is the final date for abstracts at Bali.  On that day I received
over 700 emailed abstracts inside 36 hours.  This certainly does not help
the organisers and would suggest that intending participants act well before
the few remaining deadlines for Okinawa.

Regarding some of the comments made about the size of the program,
concurrent sessions and last minute changes, again some common sense is
required.  If there were fewer presentations, fewer people would get funding
and the conference would get smaller.  Is that what we want, especially as
those who would most likely fail to get support would be students and our
more junior colleagues who probably gain most from the Congress.  Bernard
Salvat commented on this problem.  Do you want to have a longer (and more
expensive) congress, or one held more frequently?  These are not easy
questions for the ISRS Committee to resolve.

Finally, in terms of getting response on your individual papers, my
experience with Bali suggests that the mini-symposium convenors play a
pivotal role.  Many for Okinawa are the same as for Bali and without them
the program would not have been successful.  It takes a lot of pressure off
the central organising committee if delegates keep in close contact with the
relevant convenor.  Looking back on my own experiences 4 years ago, I can
fully sympathize with both the organising committee and the intending
participants for Okinawa and hope that these few comments may independently
clarify some of the problems and issues.  There will be further hic-ups – it
’s inevitable.  For Bali, just 6 weeks out from the congress the Indonesian
Vice-President (now President) was unilaterally placed into a half-day slot
which already had 7 concurrent sessions!. Re-organisation was a nightmare.
Re the comment about late withdrawals at Bali, the program was finalized
about 3 weeks prior to the congress with almost 1500 oral papers.
Logistical difficulties (arranging the program in Australia, vs.
registration in Indonesia) made it impossible to confirm that all presenters
were registered.  In the end some 93 papers were withdrawn, just over 6%
which is not bad for any International Conference of this size.  Inevitably
there will be withdrawals at all future meetings but even if we had known
about all of them beforehand they would not have been sufficient to drop
even one of the 7 concurrent sessions.

These are the kinds of things which the majority of participants are
unaware.  I am sure the 10ICRS will be highly successful, but remember
patience (and understanding) is a virtue.


Dr. David Hopley
Coastal and Marine Consultant
3 Wingadee Court

PHONE/FAX:  +61 7 4725 2856

dhopley at austarnet.com.au

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