[Coral-List] Reflections on ICRS 11

Georg Heiss georg.heiss at reefcheck.de
Wed Aug 6 08:29:24 EDT 2008

Dear Coral Listers,

First of all congratulations and a big !Thank You! to Dick Dodge and
his team for the great work they did in organizing the 11th ICRS!
Having organized the European ISRS meeting in Bremen in 2006 with 300+
participants, less than a tenth of the size of ICRS11, I certainly can
imagine what huge task this was!

With the ever increasing size of the ICRS I agree with others that we
have to continue to find ways how to improve these meetings, therefore
I'm glad that this discussion has been started.
Here a few comments for your consideration:

1. Number of talks:

As others already pointed out, some presentations at ICRS showed no
new results, some research groups presented their entire team in a
session, some presenters showed only preliminary results. There would
be a lot to say on each of these points, but essentially, as Alina
said, it is difficult for the organizers to keep a reasonable amount
of control on this.
Here is where the session chairs come in:
The session chairs are key elements in the selection of poster and
oral presentations, they should know about the current developments
and publications in their respective field, it is their task to ensure
a high quality of their sessions, avoid duplication, limit the number
of talks to a minimum and, in the end, to keep the schedule.
Session chairs and the organizers can should try to reduce the number
of talks through a rigourous selection process, and so give time for
better poster sessions.
In the preparation of the Bremen European ISRS meeting the local
organizing committee worked together with the session chairs to ensure
that one person would give only one oral presentation during the
conference, which already reduced the number of talks considerably.

2. Poster exhibition:

Provided that the poster presentations get adequate space and time at
a conference, the value of a poster would be equal to a talk. I am
aware of the fact that apparently some funding agencies and
institutions began to require an accepted oral presentation, which is
obviously a regrettable development, and we should all try to stop

I agree totally with Jessica and Alina in saying that talks should not
be concurrent with poster sessions - Never!

It is important to ensure that the poster sessions are more than just
sidelines of the conference, but important central elements of the
meeting. From my personal experience I can say that response to and
discussions of posters is in most cases better than the 1 or 2
questions after the talks, provided that people have the time to see
the posters and meet the authors.

Alina's suggestion to get rid of orals is one end of the spectrum of
possibilities, ICRS11 was something like the other end.

At the Bremen European ISRS we tried a compromise: 2 hours poster
discussions in the afternoons (no concurrent talks), all the breaks
and some receptions were in or close to the poster display area (which
is not always possible - I know). In general I had he impression that
this was well received, but it might be a good idea to give even more
time to poster sessions.

3. New vs. published results:

While I agree with Phil and others that it is not appropriate to
present old stuff at a meeting like ICRS, I would definitely like to
hear about research that is about ready to be published, and not about
studies in the making.
I attended several talks at ICRS11 where researchers showed very
recent data from the field (almost still wet), but a rigorous analysis
of the data, or a discussion where missing.
I am aware of the fact that our colleagues are always eager to show
the newest of their work, but in many cases it would be better to
discuss such work in progress at topic-specific workshops than at
ICRS. I am aware that not everybody here will like to hear this, but I
don't see that it is good for young researchers at the beginning of
their career to show their very first results at world conferences
like ICRS, where they are lost in the masses. Often they are
encouraged by their supervisors, who then get a lot of co-authorships
out of a meeting, but I don't think it is always helpful for the
students. In my opinion, and from my experience, smaller workshops or
regional ISRS conferences are more suitable for presentation and
discussion of Pre-PhD work, and more thematic and/or regional meetings
should be encouraged and supported by ISRS.

Thank you,

Best regards,

Dr. Georg Heiss
Reef Check Europe Coordinator
mobile:  +49-176-64144994
fax: +49-30-484981805
e-mail: georg.heiss at reefcheck.de
http://www.reefcheck.de/en | http://www.reefcheck.org | http://www.georgheiss.de

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